Theresa May: Progressive Savior

Theresa May is a savior of progressivism.

There is dissent among non-progressives. It’s now safe to say a Brexit voter and a Trump voter would have more in common than they would with an elite professor from their country. This dissent is making its way through the democratic electoral connection, but as of yet hasn’t meaningfully changed mainstream legislation in the UK or US.

If May is able to incorporate the frustrations of Brexit voters into mainstream politics, while allowing the opposition to negotiate with them, she could present the country with a palatable set of policies. I predict by taking seriously their core concerns, while ignoring the more radical concerns, she will incorporate the populist anger into normal boring mainstream politics. The more extreme will lose their collective power, since 90%+ will be sufficiently satisfied with their representation.

What is extreme in this case? From some perspectives it’s all racist extremism. This is changing though, with even Ezra Klein and Tyler Cowen discussing the fact that there are ought to be a way to discuss demographic concerns and the heavy negatives of some types of diversity without calling it racist xenophobia. In my opinion extreme is when this macro-level frustration manifests itself into hatred or violence towards individuals in day-to-day life.

May’s recent speech was claimed to have been xenophobic and awful. Judging the response you would have thought she gave a speech similar to Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech. The reality is that by acknowledging the most reasonable, and least extreme, frustrations of a substantive amount of Brits, she brings the policies into real debate and negotiation. The alternative of ignoring voters who feel betrayed by not having a say in immigration and the composition of their communities, is to risk their continuing to become more extreme.

Democracy seems to work best when it brings together voters who are able and willing to make political trades. Excluding half the population from having representatives who are able to build political capital and make legislative trades, on the basis that they are morally wrong, is not a successful strategy.

Is it really worth staking an entire political party and direction of a country on marginal amounts of immigration? Does the US really benefit so strongly from illegal Mexican immigration and relocating Syrian refugees to Texas that the Democratic party, and frankly large subsets of the GOP, ought to risk disenfranchising half the country, pushing them towards more extreme choices? I think if mainstream politicians took this subset of voters more seriously sooner, instead of a Trump we could have had a May.

May seems to understand this and is taking it seriously. Mainstream financial journalists claim her hard Brexit risks messing up the economy. May isn’t ignoring economic risks because she’s stupid, she’s taking a stand and making a show of it because that’s what the voters want.

Being unwilling to compromising on relatively marginal issues, such as letting major voting blocs have a say on who they allow into their communities and likening them to Hitler is a really bad strategy.


Related Links:
Taleb on the “Intellectual Yet Idiot”

Viktor Orban, Hungarian Prime Minister’s immigration speech

Academic research on make-work programs

Evonomics on Immigrants importing instutitions

Bloomberg article on Breitbart executive

Berlin threatens to hold Facebook accountable for ‘racist posts’

Trump’s ratings let him scrimp on TV ad spending