“Think of a wonderful thought, any merry little thought. Think of Christmas, think of snow, think of sleigh bells off you go, like reindeer in the sky! You can fly! you can fly! you can fly!” — Peter Pan (Disney, 1953)
The special relationship is defined by shared values and deep political cooperation. But in the summer of 2015, America and Britain are finding unity in a tale of two clowns.
Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn are currently petitioning to lead their respective political parties to Neverland. To curry favor with voters, they’re both making bold promises.
Mr. Trump has announced his intention to reduce unemployment by forcing Mexico to build a wall along the US border. He says he’ll solve the Middle East crisis by bombing and appropriating the region’s oil fields. Mr. Corbyn intends to fix the UK’s massive deficit by elevating taxes and welfare payments into the stratosphere. His preferred solution to the Middle East crisis involves becoming friends with Hezbollah and Hamas and having “a debate” with them.
These policies appear to be winning hearts and minds.
According to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, by a ten-point margin, Republicans want Trump to lead the party in next year’s Presidential election. Similarly, according to a new YouGov poll in Britain, by a 6-point margin, UK Labour Party voters want Corbyn to lead the opposition to David Cameron’s new majority government. They may have little else in common, but a good number of GOP and Labour party activists share an affinity for clowns.
Still, there’s a fairly simple explanation for the Trump/Corbyn ascendancy. Both politicians offer the fulfillment of activist dreams at a moment of desperation. Acting as political Peter Pans to the Darling family children (their respective primary activists), Trump and Corbyn promise a journey to Neverland, a place where dreams of political purity become real.
In Trump’s case, this means offering Republicans an outlet for their anger. And with his highly visible success as a businessman, Trump can promise a great deal with great credibility. He’s playing off his larger than life aura. Why does Trump conduct many of his interviews at his various towers and hotels? Because in these settings, even when he’s at his most ridiculous, even when he’s most challenged, Trump can simply revert to aggressive bluster. Allies to his fierce arrogance, his opulent buildings stand behind him as tangible testaments to Trump-faith. If Trump can build a multi-billion dollar business empire, many GOP activists ask, then why shouldn’t we trust him over other politicians who seem to have few accomplishments to their names? Trump’s style is thus perfectly suited to that element of the Republican constituency most infuriated by the seemingly inexorable “change” President Obama is imposing on America.
#related#In the aftermath of Cameron’s landslide election victory, Corbyn’s candidacy offers similar appeal to Labour voters. Always and unashamedly disinterested in mainstream perception, Corbyn embodies socialist pride and purity. For defeated Labour activists who detest British Conservatism and simply cannot believe Cameron won, Corbyn is a tonic. He gives voice to their disenchantment and offers a chance to stand proud, whatever the costs. More than that, he’s the embodiment of socialist arrogance, the belief that moral truth belongs to the left and that ultimately all others will see the light.
Of course, there’s a catch: Neither Donald Trump nor Jeremy Corbyn are Peter Pans. Instead, they are Captain Hooks, fools obsessed with a battle against logic and inevitability. And inevitability is the key here. For if they’re not careful, Trumpites and Corbynites will end up in the same place as their heroes: inside the crocodile’s mouth, embracing political oblivion.
— Tom Rogan, based in Washington, D.C., is a writer, and a contributor to The McLaughlin Group. He holds the Tony Blankley Chair at The Steamboat Institute and tweets @TomRtweets.