I’ve long been amazed at conservatives ability to wander around in a bubble of self imposed delusion. While ignorance (and a certain level of stupidity) helps, inevitably when confronted by the facts, they are forced to perform feats of mental gymnastics that would leave Simone Biles feeling dizzy. And nobody is a truer master of this than Donald Trump.
Firstly he ignored comments he made about Meghan Markle that were played back to him. Fake news now extends to anything that Trump actually says or heards. Even Laura Ingraham had to remind her audience to unhear something about Trump (and in other news Trump is also increasing the chocolate ration from 25 grams to 20 grams).
Prince Charles, perhaps naively tried to convince Trump about the dangers of climate change. He’d be as well off talking to a lump of coal. Trump responded by saying that climate change is not the fault of the US, that it has the cleanest air and water. Of course this isn’t true. As I mentioned before, there’s huge issues with water quality in rural America, which are getting much worse under Trump’s watch. The disastrous consequences of which will plague the country for years to come. And America’s environmental standards have long lagged behind those in the EU.
And while it is true China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases it only recently took that title, while the US held it for many decades. And China has over a billion people, it would be expected that the largest country in the world would have the largest emissions. On a per capita basis, America’s emissions are at least double those of the EU average and 2.5 times higher than China’s. And while both are signed up to the Paris accords and are taking measures too de-carbonise their economies, the US is still on the fence. To draw an analogy, the Americans have been fly tipping in their neighbours yard for decades, such that its now full of their trash. Yet because China comes along and discards one drinks can into the massive pile, America then turns around and blames the whole mess on China.
And this from an administration that now calls fossil fuels molecules of freedom. Which is a funny way to describe something where about 40% of the global supply comes from the middle east. Yes American domestic gas and fuel production has increased recently, but fossil fuels are finite and the vast bulk of the reserves that remain are in the middle east (about 70% of them, 80% if we count all OPEC oil reserves). So at best, the US can avoid the need to directly buy Saudi oil for awhile, if we ignore the fact that oil is an international market with oil supplies both being exported from the US and imported. A vital fact, when you consider that Saudi crude is a particularly light blend of the stuff, ideal for cars or aviation.
Oh and they’ve also taken to labelling some High level waste as low level waste, because changing the name of something will just magically reduced its radioactivity, doesn’t it? Well if its so safe, here’s a thought, how about we give it Trump supporters and they can bury it in their backyards near where their kids play?….actually I’d better watch myself, knowing Trump supporters they’ll probably think that was a great idea.
Here in the UK we have the statements from the brexiters here in the UK, which are also reality bending. Farage, despite having no MP’s and remain supporters getting more votes that him by a considerable margin in the recent EU elections, thinks he should handle the brexit negotiations. I mean can you imagine if Change UK (or whatever they are going to call themselves now) showed up in number 10 and started moving in their furniture as May moves out.
Meanwhile, the Tory leadership candidates have promised all sorts of insane things. I mean there was a controversy last week, about one or two candidates doing drugs in their youth. I’d always just assumed everyone in the Tory party was high on crack! Raab reckons he’s going to shut down parliament for several months to prevent MP’s voting to stop a no deal brexit. So he’s going to suspend democracy, ignore the rule of law (this would almost certainly be illegal) and paralyse the UK government (and economy) for months (as they would unable to pass even the most basic of legislation without parliament) just to get brexit through. When confronted with these facts, rather than admit he was wrong, instead he said he couldn’t take such a option “off the table” because that would make it harder for him to negotiate with Brussels (not sure if the EU has stopped laughing yet).
And needless to say Boris, holed up in his war room in a posh central London flat, is promising everyone everything. He will leave on October 30th no matter what. He’ll cut taxes and increase public spending. He’ll withhold paying the exit bill and blame the EU (for a mess of his own making), yet still get a free trade deal from them….Ignoring the fact that this is almost certainly illegal (and the EU can potentially recover the money by just not repatriating funds it owes the UK, or imposing a tax on all UK financial transactions). Yes, he’s saying he’ll refuse to negotiate, plunge the UK and EU into a crisis, refuse to pay any bills and then show up in Brussels on the 31st of October as if nothings happened and expect them to do a trade deal (of course the reality is he’ll be chucked out of the EU headquarters head first).
And a word from the populist left….
That said, its not as if they are alone. We also have similar problems on the populist left. Consider Corbyn’s position on brexit. As far as he’s concerned, losing seats and votes in the EU election to remain parties has nothing to do with his dithering on Brexit. Nor should we pay any attention to recent opinion polls which show a massive drop in support for labour (from 40% to just 20%, level with the lib dems and behind the brexit party). While its true that labour recently retained its seat in the Peterborough by election, this only happened because the Tory vote collapsed to the bexit party. Labour were 17% behind on the last election performance in 2017 (which suggests the opinion polls are about right, labour support, even in a leave voting seat, is down considerably). And, as if to add insult to injury, the winning labour candidate is now embroiled in a row over anti-Semitic comments she made (sound’s like she’ll fit right in then!).
As with the Tories, Corbyn’s solution to pesky little facts is to ignore them and then airbrush from history those who repeatedly speak unspeakable truths, with Emily Thornberry and other people’s vote supporters, likely to face dismissal for having the nerve to tell their boss the truth. Labour isn’t a political party anymore, its the cult of the one true Corbyn. A straight talking politicians whose actually policies are shrouded in smoke and about as clear as mud.
Meanwhile in Italy it looks like, the five turds star government is in its death throes. It would appear that enabling fascists has consequences. Left leaning voters recoil in horror and said fascists get to blame you for all of their mistakes and position themselves to take over. I mean who could have known, its not like Italy’s ever been taken over by fascists before.
And in Ireland Sinn Fein are taking a pounding in the polls. They were decimated in recent local elections and lost seats in the EU elections. Perplexed at this, they insisted a very expensive recount should go ahead in Munster. Why are they in such difficulty? Because their refusal to take any sort of a firm position on brexit means voters have realised that, like all populists, they are about as useful as tits on a mule. Lots of nice slogans and meaningless sound bites aren’t much use in a crisis.
My point is that there’s only so long that you can go on ignoring the truth. At some point populists are going to have to confront reality. The longer you delay, the harder it gets. And both those on the extremes of the left and right need to accept this fact.
The longer that conservatives ignore climate change, the harder it becomes to implement more capitalist friendly solutions to it. In fact, I’d argue conservatives are making a huge mistake. These free market solutions to climate change take time to implement. By running down the clock on climate change, there won’t have time to be effective. Leaving us with only the quick and nasty authoritarian options (i.e. rationing, high taxes and state level intervention).
The longer Corbyn pretends brexit isn’t costing him votes, the more votes he loses and the harder its going to be to convince his own supporters when he’s forced to change policy (I mean if he did back a 2nd referendum now, would anybody believe him?). And odds are, if he ever makes into number 10, his party will be as paralysed and divided on Europe as the Tories are, very little of any of his core policies will actually get implemented.
And brexit supporters need to admit to the public that the brexit promised in 2016 is impossible, the UK will be worse off out than in. Consider that recent polls show that concerns about immigration in the UK have fallen significantly since the referendum. While they could get away with selling harsh immigration controls (noting that Corbyn too has bought into this rhetoric) on the back of making the country poorer a year or two ago, that’s unlikely to be the case now or in the future.
The history of the world is littered with the tales of those who thought they could ignore their day of reckoning, by pretending it would never come, but it always does.