How Labour wipeout could affect US presidential race
Centrist Democratic candidates seize on UK election result as warning against drifting too far left
The political earthquake created by last Thursday’s shock general election result looks set to have a seismic impact across the Atlantic and the race to decide who will face Donald Trump next November.
“But it also highlighted a more profound parallel in the often synergistic US and UK politics that potentially poses longer-term threats to progressive parties: culturally and politically, they have lost touch with their heartland working-class voters - the very people they were set up to represent”.
“Democrats would be wise to dig deeper into the reasons for such wholesale rejection of the UK Labour Party,” says BBC North America editor Jon Sopel. “If you are plotting a path to victory in 2020 that takes you through Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin - the three states that the Democrats lost in 2016 by a teeny, weeny number of votes and that guaranteed Donald Trump victory - then there are many similarities between these states and the industrial heartlands that Labour have just lost”.
While Democrats in so-called Rust Belt states made big gains in the 2018 midterm elections by focusing on bread-and-butter issues “among the radical/socialist/progressive/liberal (choose your epithet) wing of the Democratic Party there is an ambition, a hunger for earth-shaking pledges” says Sopel. “But will they fly in a country where the centre of political gravity is much further to the right than it is in the UK? Promising bigger government and higher taxes may not be impossible. But it's not going to be an easy sell.”
Calling the result a “vindication of every American political commentator’s proposed strategy for defeating Donald Trump in 2020”, New York Magazine says Boris Johnson’s triumph proved that Democrats must disavow ‘wokeness’ and ‘mass immigration’ — and take a clear, unapologetic stand in favor of cosmopolitan values — or else we are going to get four more years of Trump”.
Centrist Democratic presidential candidates have seized on Labour’s electoral defeat as a warning against their party moving too far to the left ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
But it is former vice president Joe Biden, who polls especially well among working-class voters, who “likely stands to gain the most, among the top contenders, from fears that the results in Britain offer warnings for Democrats”, says the New York Times.
By contrast, leading left-wing candidates Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have sought to draw different lessons from Corbyn’s defeat while arguing there are minimal parallels between US and UK politics with no American equivalent to the dominating issue of Brexit.
Other progressive Democrats such as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have argued that Corbyn’s defeat was a different kind of warning sign: that Democrats must focus more on working-class candidates in 2020.
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