The right-wing populist canard rests on a premise that works only if the populists never get elected. You know how it goes: Politics is corrupt, the populist “alone” can fix it and those who oppose him are enemies of the state who thwart his ability to fix things. The kicker of course is that right-wing populists, being snake oil salesmen and anti-government nihilists, don’t know how to fix much of anything, and after all the huffing and puffing, the public gets the idea the populist cult leader is an incompetent charlatan. And here I’m not talking about President Trump, or rather only about Trump.

The Post reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson, under public assault for his scheme to suspend Parliament to push through a no-deal Brexit, has now lost his majority:

In Parliament, Johnson was heckled and catcalled from almost the moment he stood to speak. He noted that Tuesday was the 80th anniversary of Britain’s entrance into World War II and said “This country still stands then as now for democracy for the rule of law.” He was met with jeering laughter.
He insisted that Britain was making progress in talks with European Union leaders about an orderly Brexit, which drew more mocking laughter.
Aided by repeated demands for “Order” by House Speaker John Bercow, Johnson said his opponents’ proposal to delay Brexit by another three months after Oct. 31 would “Force us to beg for yet another pointless delay.”

As Johnson was speaking, Conservative member of Parliament Phillip Lee dramatically crossed the isle to join the opposition, depriving Johnson of his majority.

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It is widely suspected that Johnson has no real plan to avoid Brexit, thinks crashing out of the European Union won’t be so bad and, in any case, there will be others to blame. He’s tried the anti-democratic approach and gotten whacked on the snout.

In words that could apply to America’s Republican Party, Lee explains, “The Conservative Party that attracted me to join it as a young man was a broad political church,” (what we’d call a “big tent”) and his attachment to the party was based on “sound conservative principles of careful governance, responsible reform, respect for the rule of law, protecting our home union and sound stewardship of the economy.” With Brexit looming before him, Lee says the party is now characterized by a single, thin reed, “how recklessly one wishes to leave the European Union.” He castigates a party that “has increasingly become infected with the twin diseases of populism and English nationalism.”

The lessons here for the United States are not hard to discern.

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First, Trump, like Johnson, is all bluster and no competence, and as problems of his own making mount, he becomes even less stable. As matters get worse, Trump hides more often (e.g., refusing to go to Poland), lies more (e.g., phantom calls from China’s negotiators, an anti-historical explanation for Russia’s expulsion from the Group of Seven) and lashes out more frequently.

Second, unlike Lee, the United States has, with the exception of Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), no sitting legislator with the nerve to call out his party’s leader and stand up for conservative and constitutional principles. If we had a “no confidence” vote in the United States — wouldn’t that be delightful?! — the Republican administration and party would collapse under the weight of Trump’s stunning incompetence. The very little man behind the curtain no longer can sustain the illusion of sanity, let alone strength.

And finally, the antidote to illiberal wannabe autocrats is democracy. Brits took to the streets to protest Johnson’s scheme, and now in the heart of the oldest deliberative body, the model for democratic legislatures everywhere, conservatives are taking on their leader. If American conservatives would only follow their example, America’s Trumpian nightmare would end sooner rather than later.

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