UP THE HILL BACKWARDS

TrumpEven the most fanatically slavish supporter of the EU view of Europe must be able to see by now that Britain’s commitment to the great European adventure was always half-hearted at best. Throughout the on-off negotiations of the 60s and old big nose’s repeated ‘Non’, the UK’s emotional and sentimental connections to anywhere beyond these islands were largely restricted to the Commonwealth, with the cultural exports of another English-speaking ex-colony (the USA) running a close second. Europe to the British wasn’t some shiny new experiment in democratic brotherhood, but something mired in monochrome memories of the War, or typified by the nonsensical nursery rhymes of funny foreigners at the Eurovision or giant foam creatures on ‘Jeux Sans Frontières’, or associated with cheap continental holidays in which the Great British tradition of bacchanalian Blackpool debauchery was re-enacted on a foreign field. For all of Ted Heath’s enthusiasm, the Brit masses never really embraced Europe in the way their political overlords did, so should the events of 2016 have really come as a great surprise? And, despite the ongoing pro-Euro stance of the MSM and the hackneyed game of blaming everything on Brexit whilst pandemic policies are rewarded with an ‘amnesty’, one only need take note of the disproportionate coverage last week’s midterm American elections received over here.

An actual Presidential Election of the kind we only get every four years is, to a degree, understandable; but midterm? It’s been bad enough this year having to endure two Tory leadership contests in which a miniscule proportion of the electorate got to choose this country’s Prime Minister, but at least their decision had a direct impact on the lives of the rest of us. Who really cares in Blighty if the Democrats or Republicans capture a State most Americans, let alone Brits, would struggle to locate on the map? A week ago last Tuesday, Radio 4 cancelled its usual late night schedule and devoted no less than 6 hours 20 minutes to live coverage of the US midterm elections. For all the supposed unity we’re repeatedly told we naturally share with our continental cousins on the European mainland, I can’t recall the last time France or Germany were the recipients of such generous reportage when their people visited the local polling station. The fact is we’re still in thrall to the American Dream, however hard the mainstream media’s EU cheerleaders try to persuade us otherwise.

I admit I didn’t personally pay much attention to last week’s midterm US elections, despite the blanket coverage it was difficult to avoid. That said, the predictable announcement by Donald Trump that he intends to run for the Republican candidacy again in 2024 is something guaranteed to prick up the ears of even the most disinterested overseas observer bereft of the vote. Sleepy Joe has yet to confirm his intentions to run in 1974…sorry, 2024 – had a bit of a Biden moment there; but the prospect of two befuddled geriatrics squaring up to each other again as though fighting for their place in the post office queue to cash their pensions doesn’t exactly fill one with optimism for the future of the West’s solitary superpower at a moment when the West is at its most vulnerable in living memory. The Republicans’ underwhelming performance in the midterms was something many attributed to Trump’s unwelcome intervention, with the chances of the Party taking power in the House of Representatives remaining in the balance whilst the Democrats have retained the Senate.

As though proving once and for all that the Donald is effectively a one-man party with no sense of loyalty to the Republican cause beyond the fruitcake fringes he appeals to, this announcement is probably music to the ears of most Democrats and the last thing most moderate Republicans needed to hear. The candidates Trump gave his blessing to last week, in the likes of Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania, all failed to win; their attempts to ape Trump’s more extreme claims – such as his conviction of being robbed of the 2020 Presidential Election – didn’t connect with voters, though one Republican who managed to achieve a considerable success by eschewing fanciful and discredited conspiracy theories was summarily dismissed by the Donald – Ron DeSantis. The Florida Governor achieved over 1.5 million votes, despite a political CV stretching back barely a decade; and whilst Trump conveniently avoided being drafted to Vietnam, DeSantis served a tour of duty in Iraq when a member of the US Navy. His popularity in Florida may have irked Trump into nicknaming him ‘Ron DeSanctimonious’, but some Republicans are looking to DeSantis as a more credible alternative to another journey into the absurd with Trump, a journey that threatens to scupper any hopes the Republicans have of recapturing the White House two years from now.

DeSantis was the man who infamously staged the headline-grabbing stunt that saw him chartering a plane to deliver a bunch of migrants to the rich-man’s playground of Martha’s Vineyard to see how immigration appeasers coped with migrants in their manicured backyard; he’s publicly opposed Critical Race Theory and Trans propaganda indoctrination in schools; he was vocal about his disapproval of OTT restrictions during the pandemic; he put his signature to anti-riot legislation when Democrat politicians were giving BLM and their affiliated anarchists free rein to burn down American communities; and he’s made his feelings on the Culture Wars crystal clear with statements such as, ‘We’re not gonna let this State descend into some sort of Woke dumpster-fire’. In short, he’s saying the kind of things that appeal to a huge swathe of the American electorate who feel left out in the cold by the progressive agenda of the Biden administration, and he’s doing so without attaching himself to the kind of redneck yahoos that venerate Trump – the very tribe that could cost the Republicans in 2024 if Trump’s candidacy is approved.

Certainly, if anyone’s star is rising in the Republican Party right now it’s that of Ron DeSantis, making him the only real contender capable of taking on Trump and crushing the prospect of the Second Coming – should he choose to run. Other hats thrown into the ring by commentators include the one belonging to the Vice President Mike Pence, the Born-Again Christian with former connections to the noughties loony tunes movement known as the Tea Party; Trumps’ former Secretary of State and CIA director Mike Pompeo is another name being tossed around, as is Dick Cheney’s daughter Liz – even though she’s a considerable rank outsider, having voted for Trump to be impeached and losing her Wyoming seat as a consequence; but Republicans dreading the Donald’s return are desperate for someone to come along to neuter the possibility of the Party being forever tarnished as a refuge for the more deranged members of America’s electorate.

Comebacks, particularly political ones, rarely work; even Boris Johnson found that out just a few weeks ago when he realised he lacked the numbers needed to be able to stroll back into Downing Street. Perhaps the most notable comeback in US history was that of Richard Nixon in 1968; after losing to JFK in the Presidential Election eight years previously, Eisenhower’s Vice President had a long spell in the wilderness, failing in his 1962 bid to become Governor of California and being written off as a has-been. His surprise winning of the Republican candidacy in 1968 was aided by Lyndon Johnson dramatically pulling out and by the assassination of Bobby Kennedy leaving the Democrats without a suitably charismatic candidate; Tricky Dicky’s remarkable triumph was achieved without him having previously served as President, however, and the likelihood of a man like Trump, whose tenure in the White House still reads like a surrealist soap opera, regaining the keys to the Oval Office is something of a long-shot. His slate is far from clean now – if it ever was – and backward steps are not the way forward.

© The Editor

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