Lesson From the UK: It’s a Different Country!

After reading Newt Gingrich’s argument that the victory of the Tories in the UK last week was a vindication of a nasty message about welfare bums, I figured it was time throw some cold water on the idea that Republicans should look across the Atlantic for important “lessons.” So here’s how I described the most obvious “lesson” in my weekly column at TPMCafe:

Republicans should boast of their successful management of an economic recovery while attacking their opponent’s irresponsibility in office during the last decade and exploiting fears of a regional secession movement. Towards the end of the election cycle they should cannibalize the votes of their coalition partners and execute a surge to 36.9% of the electorate!

The UK elections don’t really supply much of a “teachable moment” unless you are looking for one, do they?

I went on to expand on my response to one of the actually interesting “lessons of Britain” pieces, by David Frum, in which I meditated on the importance to the GOP coalition of the “tipping point” theories he thinks are deadly to the party’s broader appeal. The heavy preponderance of both conservative evangelical Christians and libertarians in the U.S. conservative party as compared to others makes doom-saying about phenomena like Obamacare inevitable. And this is how you wind up with a relatively sane person like Mitt Romney yammering about the “47%” like every other Republican who “knows” we’re plunging towards serfdom or Hell.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.