UK Elections Show Fake Conservatism Cannot Win

Chronicles – “There’s a lot to react against,” said Margaret Thatcher when she was accused of being a “reactionary” during what turned out to be her victorious 1979 election campaign. Unfortunately, her heirs leading Britain’s shattered Conservative Party never took that wisdom to heart. Now they have suffered the most catastrophic electoral defeat in their party’s history, returning with less than 20 percent of the seats in parliament while Sir Keir Starmer’s new Labour government will control nearly two-thirds of them.

The reasons for the Tory implosion are easy to understand. After coming to power in 2010, they delivered the highest tax burden in relation to GDP since the 1940s. They used the revenue for massive public spending that drove up Britain’s national debt and inflicted record-high inflation without significantly increasing wages or reversing a considerable decline in public services. They committed to “NetZero,” a green energy program that will cost tens of billions over the coming decades and chased away foreign investment and business development. They oversaw a near tripling of illegal immigration and waited until the last weeks of their mandate to take even symbolic countermeasures. They surrendered control of Britain’s rich cultural heritage, historic educational institutions, and civil society to the radical left without so much as a whimper and then took only a handful of correctives.

A large percentage of the party leadership actively opposed restoring Britain’s national sovereignty through Brexit. Then, either from a lack of zeal, sheer incompetence, or purposeful malevolence, bungled its implementation. Along the way, the Conservatives eviscerated Britain’s military readiness, tolerated surging crime, indulged in humiliating sex and financial scandals, and imposed one of the world’s strictest COVID-19 lockdown regimes even while prominent Tory leaders violated it.

Britain’s Conservatives, in other words, governed like American Democrats, with the exception that the Democrats never united behind their more modest “Green New Deal” that was advanced early in the Biden administration.

Like their American center-left counterparts, the Tories have left their country poorer, weaker, sadder, shamefaced, and more divided. Their record was so bad that Labour had no need to advance much of an alternative program, but merely to criticize Tory failures while promising vague, Obamaesque “change.”

The Tory leadership proved so atrocious that frustrated small “c” British conservatives coalesced around Nigel Farage’s alternate Reform UK Party, a new entity based on the Brexit movement that won 4.1 million votes from a divided right and appears to have cost the Conservatives as many as 173 parliamentary seats—or 52 more than they won. That would not have been enough to overtake Labour’s massive lead, but it does doom the ossified traditional Tory party to near irrelevance and a dubious claim to lead the British right going forward.

“I am sorry,” said outgoing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who also stepped down as Conservative leader in the aftermath of his party’s crushing defeat. The real tragedy, however, is not that the right lost and the left won. It is that one statist, social democratic party will be succeeded by another statist, social democratic party that promises to be slightly different and work harder. Whether it does or not, the country’s woes will find no relief until the British electorate is bold enough to embrace true conservatism.

France, U.K. Elections Were a Loss for Incumbents, Not a Win For the Left

Newsweek – The international Left rejoiced Sunday evening as exit polling in France’s runoff parliamentary elections suggested much lower than expected gains for the country’s Right-wing populist National Rally Party, which was widely expected to win a large plurality—if not an outright majority—of seats in the National Assembly. Coming just three days after the U.K.’s parliamentary elections, which saw the Conservative Party thoroughly trounced by Labour after 14 years in power, leftist cheerleaders thought they had detected a hopeful pattern of Left defeating Right. Ebullient, they quickly took to social media to argue that after London and Paris, Washington must be next, with defeat looming in November for former president Donald J. Trump.

But this interpretation of the British and French elections is a mirage. While they may be part of the same pattern, the two elections, as well as results in a number of other Western countries, strongly suggest that pattern is anti-incumbency rather than anti-Right.

Take the British case. In their 14 years in power, the Conservative Party presided over taxes spiraling to their highest level relative to GDP in over 70 years, ballooning national debt, record-high inflation, unchecked unemployment, surging illegal immigration, rising crime, a radical and costly environmental program, the barely resisted woke capture of most national institutions, and the evisceration of British military power. Along the way, the party imposed one of the world’s strictest COVID-19 lockdown policies, which its leaders embarrassingly violated in a major national scandal, and delivered a painful and deeply flawed exit from the European Union, which most of the party leadership opposed while the majority of Britons favored of it.

Unsurprisingly, large numbers of British voters rejected the Conservatives, who finished with the smallest percentage of votes and lowest number of parliamentary seats in their 200-year history. Tellingly, their massive losses were helped by the emergence of Reform UK, a populist right-wing alternative that grew out of the Brexit movement and entered the national campaign as a rival party this year. According to one British survey, the 4.1 million ballots that Reform UK received may have cost the Conservatives as many as 173 seats—52 more than they ended up winning. Alongside that divide, Labour, which won nearly two-thirds of all parliamentary seats, campaigned much less on its policies, which are barely distinguishable from those of the Conservatives, than on Obamaesque notions of “hope” and “change” and promises to work harder than the discredited incumbents.

Across the Channel, the big loser in France’s elections was not National Rally, which actually improved its showing since the previous election, but the center-right incumbents of President Emmanuel Macron‘s pro-business and Paris-centered Ensemble coalition, which has been in power for seven years and also mired the country in high debt, high inflation, rising crime, surging illegal immigration, increasing immiseration, and other woes. The coalition lost 86 seats, tumbling from the 245-seat plurality it won in 2022—and the 350-seat majority it enjoyed when Macron was elected in 2017—to second place and a numerical inability to govern.

The Left placed first with 180 seats after uniting just last month into the “New Popular Front” (NPF)—a coalition of over 50 political parties and other organizations. While its “tactical alliance” with Ensemble stopped National Rally from reaching an imposing mandate, the NPF has pledged not to work with Macron in government, and seems unlikely to govern on its own. It has advanced a strongly anti-incumbent platform that specifically calls for the reversal of many of Macron’s economic reforms, including his signature tax cuts and hard-fought increase in the retirement age.

To Macron’s right, National Rally, which also opposes much of Macronism, received more than twice the number of votes it won in 2022, increased its number of seats from 89 to 142, and is now the largest single party in the National Assembly and, by percentage of the popular vote, in the country at large. That’s quite a climb from the two seats it held before 2017, when it was a marginal fringe party with a dark fascist past.

If Britain and France are bringing down incumbents, American leftists should hope the U.S. is not part of the same pattern. President Joe Biden has only been in office for three and half years, but the progressive ideology he represents has held sway over American state and society alike for far longer, and Americans are fed up.

Like his unpopular British and French incumbent counterparts, Biden also has to answer for high inflation, higher taxes, increasing national debt, persistent crime, and significant national and institutional decline. Trump, who believes he was betrayed by metropolitan elites and a disloyal bureaucracy in his presidential term and deliberately campaigns as an outsider, leads Biden in virtually every recent national and swing state poll, while an overwhelming majority of Americans and a rising number of Democrats believe Biden should drop out of the race in favor of an non-incumbent candidate who may have a better chance of winning.

For the moment, however, it looks like Biden will definitely be part of a pattern. But it might not be the one his supporters expect.

The Lame Duck in France

City Journal – “Dishonorable alliances have thrown France into the arms of the radical left,” declared the disappointed 28-year-old leader of the National Rally party, Jordan Bardella, on Sunday evening as the results of the second and final round of the country’s parliamentary elections rolled in. Bardella and his allies did worse than predicted, but the final tally was not quite so dramatic. On Monday morning, France awoke to a hung parliament: the three mutually irreconcilable factions—Left, Right, and Center—had failed to gain anything close to the 289-seat majority necessary to govern the country.

President Emmanuel Macron, of the centrist Renaissance Party, had called snap parliamentary elections last month after the National Rally (RN) did surprisingly well in France’s elections for the European Union parliament. Macron has now asked Prime Minister Gabriel Attal to remain in charge of a de facto caretaker government, leaving the French people to wonder how—or if—a government enjoying majority support will be formed before the next presidential election in 2027.

The Left had the best night. The New Popular Front (NFP), an uneasy coalition combining about 50 leftist political parties, labor unions, and other organizations, was only created on June 10, after the RN’s impressive performance in the European Union elections. It placed first on Sunday, securing 182 seats (107 short of a majority), despite giving few indications that its disparate elements can form a coherent governing program, agree on a leader, or even outlast this latest setback for the RN. Next came Macron’s Together for the Republic (EPR) coalition, with 163 seats, down from 245 in the last elections in 2022 and the 361-seat absolute majority Macron’s supporters won when he was first elected president in 2017. The RN finished third with 143 seats, far worse than expected.

Bardella’s disappointment was understandable, even if the RN’s campaign failed to blunt the impact of its controversial past associations with fascism and deficiencies in coalition building, resource allocation, candidate selection, and public relations. After acing the EU elections on June 9 and the first round of parliamentary elections on June 30, the party, its opponents, and virtually all polls agreed that it would win a large plurality, if not an outright majority, in the second-round runoff. If that had happened, Macron would have been obliged by the political conventions of the Fifth Republic to call upon Bardella to form a government at odds with his presidency—an awkward arrangement known as cohabitation that the current Republic’s founders do not appear to have envisioned and which has not worked well in the past.

Instead, Macron’s distressed and unpopular coalition has formed a “tactical alliance” with the NFP. Under its terms, candidates who finished third or lower in the first round dropped out of the race before the second round, thus avoiding splitting the vote against RN candidates. Unlike virtually everything else in French politics, this process, put into action in 221 constituencies, proved highly effective, costing the RN dozens of seats it was favored to win.

Yet while the RN failed to meet expectations, it still added 54 seats to the 89 it won in 2022 and took 135 more than the mere eight seats it won just seven years ago in 2017. As Bardella acknowledged, even the numerically checked RN stands as the largest party in the National Assembly, once the coalitions are broken down into their component parts. Having won more than a third of the popular vote, the RN also outpolled all of its opponents, individually and en bloc. And with 30 of France’s 81 seats in the European Parliament, the RN is larger there than the next two French parties combined.

The biggest losers of the elections are Macron and his centrist coalition. Neither the RN’s success in the European elections nor anything else in French politics required him to call snap legislative elections. He appears to have done so out of a fit of pique, later explaining that he sought “clarity” in his country’s direction. He could have done his best to provide that clarity before the 2027 presidential elections, in which term limits prohibit him from participating. Instead, he needlessly squandered his parliamentary coalition’s sizeable plurality, threw his prime minister and political heir apparent under the bus, and almost certainly tarnished his legacy and reduced himself to three years of lame-duck status.

Macron has the additional humiliation of owing even his hobbled political survival to a shady and undemocratic backroom deal with the radical Left, which hates him about as much as it hates the RN, ran on reversing his pro-business economic program, and has already called for his resignation. As the Center and Left fight it out, the RN will be waiting in the wings.

Progressive Dogma Ensures Dems Will Be Stuck with Biden

Newsweek – Joe Biden turned in an abysmal performance in the first presidential debate Thursday night. Feeble and frail, doddering and incoherent, his acumen was—despite a solid week of preparation allegedly involving 16 senior administration officials—so bad that most commentators, including Left-leaning ones, wrote off his political future.

For about 12 hours after the debate concluded, reports held, the Democratic Party was in a “panic,” facing the desperate realization that despite years of efforts to promote Biden as a sound leader and use a wide range of means to try to destroy his presumptive opponent, the incumbent is on the fast track to losing.

After its initial shock, however, the progressive Left has begun to pull together the semblance of positive spin. Biden, more and more are saying, just had a “bad night” that should not invalidate the totality of his campaign or the supposed “success” of his administration. A “cold” that was not previously mentioned was the culprit for his raspy voice and the dead look in his eyes, even if it did not stop him from post-debate gladhanding at an Atlanta Waffle House and a separate Friday campaign event. Biden, we are assured, is a “good person” who means well despite his foibles.

Democratic officials gradually went on record to double down on their support for Biden. “No,” boomed House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries when a journalist asked if the president should stand down. By midday on Friday, CNN cited White House sources claiming that Biden was in for the long haul and reaffirmed that he would not merely continue his campaign but participate in a second debate with Trump, previously scheduled for September 10.

Do the Democrats seriously believe Biden’s obvious cognitive and physical health problems will improve in the four months before the election? In the Washington echo chamber, any contortion of perception and logic is possible. But for most, Biden’s pretense of viability is plain, and it is obvious the Democrats have no alternative.

Today’s Democratic Party rests on an uneasy coalition of aging moderates who genuinely believe the center-Left has something positive to offer and a much more vocal and powerful movement of radical progressives who are so totally convinced of their own virtue and correctness that any political future other than one in which they control the levers of power is unthinkable.

For ideologues of the latter stripe, even a senile 81-year-old must win in November because he sits on the “right side of history.” If Biden is incapable of governing, so much the better. Younger progressives in his administration can expect even greater leeway to impose an even more radical agenda on the country while the old man simply signs off on it. A sick old Biden, in other words, is better than any healthier alternative, whether that be Donald Trump or a less pliant Democrat who might out of common sense or political necessity push back on his party’s progressivism.

More importantly, progressive shibboleths have imposed such constraints on Democratic candidate selection that switching out Biden for another candidate—now or at any other time—would be a fraught endeavor. Next in line for the presidency should traditionally be Vice President Kamala Harris. In 2020, she was plucked from the loser bin to join Biden’s ticket after abandoning her own failed presidential candidacy in order to secure Biden’s primary win in South Carolina and thus bring his campaign to the forefront. The problem, of course, is that she has been such an utter disaster in office that all polls show her losing to Trump by double digits. Unsurprisingly, no one has even raised the possibility of Biden yielding to her if he is to abandon his campaign.

Worse, the only other alternatives to Biden among high-level Democrats are all white and almost all male. Bypassing Harris for another candidate would almost certainly mean dumping a black woman for a white man, something progressives would not tolerate in a low-level boardroom or third-rate liberal arts college, let alone in presidential politics. No argument could defend such a move in their bizarre logic. Appealing to qualifications, experience, popularity, electability, or any other factors—whether objective or subjective—could only be portrayed as an ugly resort to “white supremacy” and “patriarchy” within a political party that has pledged to rid the country of both regardless of the costs.

For the declining number of moderate Democrats who cower in fear of their party’s progressive wing—which ultimately has little regard for them—the practical issues offer an acceptable cover. Switching horses mid-race is rarely a good idea, and with the fate of “Our Democracy” at stake, they would be loath to take such a risk, especially in an intraparty process that would at this late stage involve no democratic mandate from their party’s voters. With hundreds of millions of dollars already invested in promoting Biden’s desperate cause, moreover, only a few weeks of campaign time would be insufficient to popularize virtually any potential replacement to a level exceeding even a greatly weakened Biden’s chances of victory.

The debate likely obliterated those chances, and people who suffer from Biden’s obvious ailments sadly have few prospects of recovery. But whether or not Democrats restore their former enthusiasm for Biden, thanks to their own twisted ideology they are stuck with him through election day.

Biden’s Debate Lies

ChroniclesFrail and debilitated, dazed and confused, mumbling and incoherent, President Joe Biden’s dismal verbal and cognitive performance in his first debate against the former, and as now seems increasingly likely, future President Donald J. Trump, by itself proves that Biden is almost certainly incapable of serving another term and, in some minds, unlikely even to make it to the end of his current one.

But even allowing for the devastating impression he left on the world, the nation, and, according to widespread reports, his party, the content of what he said—to the extent that it was intelligible—was so riddled with falsehoods that American voters should consider his lies while contemplating their votes for November.

Don’t look for that observation in the mainstream media, which devoted the fateful morning after to gaslighting the public with the false notion that only Trump was lying. “Biden Stumbles in Debate as Trump Spread Falsehoods,” hedged the financially and reputationally troubled Washington Post. “Former President Trump’s attacks were frequently false,” concurred the New York Times, once the paper of record, even as four of its leading columnists—Thomas Friedman, Paul Krugman, Frank Bruni, and Nicholas Kristof—wrote lengthy op-eds imploring Biden to withdraw from the race. Politico derided Biden for turning in “the worst debate performance in American history,” but still opined that Trump was “spewing a series of lies” when he challenged the Democratic incumbent.  “It’s hard to debate a liar,” said Biden himself when asked what he thought of his own debate performance. ABC News assiduously fact-checked 17 of Trump’s claims but only four of Biden’s claims.

Like their allies at the Times, who reported the sometimes amusing disappointment among those watching Biden debate, top Democrats are reportedly wondering whether it is time for Biden to be replaced. Whatever their deeply troubled side of the aisle decides, the fact remains that the president was the one spreading falsehoods in a desperate effort to show up Trump and save his sagging candidacy.

To begin with his most outrageous claim, Biden denied that any U.S. servicemen have been lost on his watch. “The truth is, I’m the only president this century, this decade, that doesn’t have any troops dying anywhere in the world,” he sputtered. This is patently untrue. During Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, thirteen servicemen—eleven Marines, one Navy corpsman, and one Army special operations soldier—were needlessly killed in a suicide bombing during the rush to abandon Bagram airbase. The families of those fallen heroes will never be the same, even if Biden failed to admit (or remember) their loss. But neither will the families of two U.S. SEALS killed in Yemen last October and three Army personnel killed in an Iranian-aligned militia’s attack on a base in Jordan in January. In November 2023, 13 other servicemen were killed in two unrelated accidents—five soldiers in the Eastern Mediterranean and eight airmen in Japan. That’s a total of 31 lost lives the president lied about before an international audience. With hundreds more servicemen wounded and injured since 2021—and six U.S. citizens still held hostage by Hamas in Gaza—his lie further underscores the fundamental fact that Americans are greatly more vulnerable to fatal attack under his abysmal leadership.

Biden lied again when he declared that no terrorists have crossed the severely compromised southern border under his leadership. “The only terrorist who has done anything crossing the border,” the president said, “is one who came along and killed three—in [Trump’s] administration.” Biden’s own Department of Homeland Security—led by the recently impeached Alejandro Mayorkas—disagrees with him, however. In a report released just two days before the debate, DHS announced that an ISIS-linked network has smuggled over 400 “subjects of concern” across the southern border, more than 50 of whom remain unaccounted for. In fiscal years 2022 and 2023, some 381 individuals on the U.S. terrorist watch list were apprehended in the United States after arriving illegally, in some case after spending long periods of time at large due to lax immigration enforcement. Just last month, two Jordanian nationals, who were illegally present in the country, attempted to infiltrate and then force their way into the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Virginia, in what Biden’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement described as a possible “dry run for ISIS or Al Qaeda.” Terrorists are already among us, and Biden lied about that, too.

To add insult to injury, Biden claimed that the National Border Patrol Union endorsed him, or at the very least his position on the border. In an X post now viewed nearly 26 million times, however, the National Border Patrol Union stated—while the debate was still in progress—“to be clear, we never have and never will endorse Biden.”

Biden’s political future may be in doubt. But no matter what becomes of him, he can rest assured that his lies will never be exposed by the self-appointed guardians of “Our Democracy™.” Our country is and will continue to be more dangerous as a result.

Time to Bring the Feds Down on Antisemitic Colleges

Newsmax – On June 17, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights issued its first two findings in investigations into campus hate incidents resulting from Hamas’ horrific Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

According to the department’s announcement, both the City University of New York (CUNY) and the University of Michigan “failed to respond promptly or effectively to alleged discrimination and antisemitic harassment by employees and students,” thereby “creating a hostile environment.”

At CUNY, Department of Education (DOE) investigators found that this has happened nine times since 2019. At Michigan, the investigation found 75 such cases since 2022.

Each incident, the DOE says, represents a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on actual or “perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics.”

The penalty? Theoretically, the DOE has the power to deprive any offending school of all federal funds for violations of federal civil rights laws.

Catherine Lhamon, the assistant secretary of Education for Civil Rights under Barack Obama and now again under Joe Biden, directly threatened roomfuls of timid university administrators with just that fate if they failed to adopt her grotesque distortion of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to encompass campus complaints of alleged sexual harassment.

The result has been a fiasco leading to thousands of kangaroo court prosecutions, almost all of which discriminatorily target men and many of which have led to successful lawsuits costing schools high-value judgments or settlements while sex-obsessed DOE bureaucrats who have nothing to do with the education of students in classrooms look on leeringly.

Despite saying that he finds reports of antisemitic harassment “deeply concerning” and “a challenging moment,” however, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona is happy to let it all go in exchange for weak “resolution agreements,” in which the offending schools admit no “liability, non-compliance, or wrongdoing.”

All they have to do, according to the agreement’s terms, is “review policies and procedures,” provide anti-discrimination “training” to students and staff, administer a campus “climate assessment survey,” and report on how they are handling Title VI-related complaints as they arise.

Almost all colleges and universities do this anyway, in part to comply with federal laws and policies, and in part to create busywork to justify the dubious employment of their own in-house diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) commissars and diversity propagandists.

For all their obsession with sex, which the Biden administration’s new directives will amplify to include transgender ideology and reduced protections for those accused of sexual harassment, DOE apparatchiks are in no particular hurry to protect Jews or put an end to their harassment on campus. Under the terms of the resolution agreements, the schools have a generous amount of time to comply, with the “climate assessments” not coming due until a year and half from now, in December 2025.

What if the schools do not follow through with even these mild requirements? In that case, according to the agreement’s terms, the DOE could “initiate enforcement proceedings or refer the complaint to the U.S. Department of Justice for judicial proceedings.” But before that happens, the alleged offenders will receive “written notice of the alleged breach and 60 calendar days to cure” it before any further action is taken.

New York City residential code violators should be so lucky.

More than a hundred other investigations of schools for Title VI violations relating to the Oct. 7 attack are currently in progress at the Department of Education, with the results due to be announced soon. Its well-funded bureaucrats should do a lot more than issue meaningless slaps on the wrist for failing to stop violent antisemitic harassment even as they menace the might of state power to persecute men.

Our failing colleges and universities must be held fully to account.

Tyson Foods’ Shameful Juneteenth Replacement Celebration

ChroniclesIn 2021 we were told emphatically that  Juneteenth would not replace the Fourth of July as America’s major national holiday, despite the fact that the newest federal holiday’s official name is literally “Juneteenth National Independence Day.” At most, progressive editorialists lectured us at the time, Juneteenth would merely equal or complement the true Independence Day, celebrating American freedom from a different perspective, neither replacing nor diminishing July 4 as America’s National Independence Day.

Just three years on, however, Tyson Foods, a multibillion-dollar chicken processor based in Arkansas, seems to have suggested otherwise. This Juneteenth, its employees were provided with order forms for T-shirts available from an outside vendor featuring designs that included the date “July 4” struck out above language stating: “Juneteenth 1865, because my ancestors weren’t free in 1776.”

The phrase suggests affinity with radical, error-ridden, Marxist-infused, and fundamentally anti-American racial ideologies maintaining that 1619, the year the first slaves arrived in North America, should be the foundational date of American history rather than the year in which national independence was declared. Most variations of the T-shirt visible on the internet print the additional words following the July 4 cross-out in the green, red, and yellow colors of Pan-Africanism, which are featured in national flags that numerous African countries adopted upon their, and not our, independence.

Confronted with this apparent suggestion of replacing July 4, Tyson admitted that the T-shirts were designed by a “team member” but claimed that management was “unaware” of them. Now that it is, the statement continued, Tyson claims to have determined that they do not comply with the company’s dress code and should no longer be sold to employees. Tyson did not, however, clarify how or in what way these shirts failed to meet the company’s undoubtedly lofty sartorial standards. Does the company, which claims on its website to be committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), prefer anti-American messages to appear on collared shirts only? We may never know, and it is apparently reticent to make clear that it supports the real Independence Day.

This could be the type of confusion one might expect from a company that recently had to recall nearly 30,000 tons of processed chicken found to contain pieces of metal.  The company also may be motivated to push the diversity agenda to justify its cost-cutting agenda. In March, Tyson announced its desire to hire more than 40,000 migrants for entry-level work in its plants, even while it laid off American workers.

Juneteenth commemorates Union Civil War Major General Gordon Granger’s June 19, 1865 order enforcing President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Granger freed slaves still held in bondage in Texas, where his troops had finally arrived following General Robert E. Lee’s final surrender more than two months earlier. The occasion became a federal holiday in 2021, when President Joe Biden signed it into law. The House of Representatives passed the bill, proposing it with only 14 votes against. The Senate passed it unanimously. Then-Fox News presenter Tucker Carlson accurately predicted that “our country will get a new Independence Day, to supplant the old one” in what he called an act of “radical social change.” That might be just fine with Tyson Foods. Enjoy your steely chicken.

EU Elections Are a Harbinger for November in the United States

Newsweek – Establishment Europe got a rude jolt on Sunday, when the European Union‘s 360 million citizens registered unprecedented support for far-Right populist parties—conservative nationalist groupings relegated to the fringe only a few years ago.

In France, the opposition Rassemblement National (RN) party won more than twice the votes of French President Emmanuel Macron‘s flagging Renaissance party, prompting the French leader to dissolve the allied parliamentary government and call snap elections later this month. Preliminary polls predict that the far-Right party will come close to winning a majority of National Assembly seats in the forthcoming elections, while Macron’s supporters in that body will only win about 20 percent of seats.

Meanwhile, in Germany despite a series of recent scandals recalling its Nazi past, the country’s Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party outpolled each of the three parties in Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Leftist governing coalition to finish second nationally behind the center-right Christian Democratic Union, which may have no choice but to work with AfD if it wishes to govern in the future.

Results in Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Spain, Austria, the Netherlands, and Belgium, whose prime minister resigned after the votes were tabulated, all registered significant far-Right gains, while far-Right parties in other countries like Hungary were diminished but maintained their dominance.

It remains to be seen how the Right-wing parties will work together in the European Parliament, but Europeans are clearly fed up, a fact readily acknowledged by beleaguered national leaders who suddenly claim to sympathize with their concerns as their political futures hang in the balance.

Strikingly, polls going into the European elections showed that voters’ top issues included poor national leadership, immigration, and economic troubles. If that sounds familiar to American readers, it should.

According to a Gallup poll released in May, poor national leadership tops the list of concerns among American voters at 21 percent, followed by immigration at 18 percent and the general state of the economy at 17 percent.

As most polls reveal, these shared priorities augur well for former and perhaps future president Donald J. Trump. According to an ABC News/Ipsos poll on the issues released last month, Trump enjoys a seven-point lead over President Joe Biden on leading the U.S. in the world, a 17-point lead over the incumbent on handling immigration, and a 14-point lead on the economy, with an identical 14-point lead on the related issue of inflation. Despite Trump’s criminal conviction and ongoing prosecutions, he continues to lead in most polls measuring the popular vote ahead of November’s election, including in all 2020 swing states, with the conviction registering either no effect or a slight bump in his favor.

Like their European counterparts, Americans increasingly find little hope in centrist solutions or establishment institutions. A Pew Research Center survey in 2023 found that just 16 percent of Americans trust the federal government “to do what is right” “just about all” or “most of the time,” the lowest number in 70 years. Gallup polls released last October show that 68 percent report little or no trust in the mainstream media, while 64 percent no longer trust higher education, figures that have undoubtedly diminished further in the wake of Hamas‘s attack on Israel and dubious responses to it in American institutional life. In 2022, a majority of Americans for the first time reported no trust in the judiciary. Nearly half believe a civil war is at least “somewhat likely” in the next few years.

At the same time, what’s left of the establishment GOP teeters on the verge of irrelevance as its star candidate, Nikki Haley, failed to pose any lasting challenge to Trump in the Republican primary contest and is out of contention for the vice presidential spot on his ticket, which could have primed her for the top job in 2028.

The party’s conservative nationalist populism will remain a fact of life for the foreseeable future, and as Europe’s elections have shown, it is the favorite to win in November.

‘Civil War’ Shows American Divisions Through a Glass, Darkly

Chronicles MagazineCivil War  Directed and written by Alex Garland – Produced by DNA Films et al. – Distributed by A24

“Holy S***! What a F****** rush!” exclaims Joel, a cocky Hispanic photojournalist, after he watches rebel militants execute uniformed soldiers captured in a firefight early in Alexander Garland’s Civil War. The character, played gratingly by Narcos star Wagner Moura, is not reacting to a war crime in Ukraine, the Middle East, or sub-Saharan Africa but somewhere along a circuitous route between New York City and Washington, D.C. On that difficult road, supplies are short, tensions are high, danger lurks around every corner, and—perhaps most discouraging of all—Canadian dollars are the only hard currency.

The civil war of Garland’s title is an imagined conflict within America set in a disturbingly near future or an alternate present. Rebellious regional groupings, including a “Western Forces” entity improbably linking California and Texas, a Southern faction more plausibly called the “Florida Alliance,” and a Pacific Northwest coalition known as the “New People’s Army,” are marching on Washington. Their aim is to depose a bellicose but isolated president, who calls for national unity but lacks the power to end the rebellion.

How the Republic reached this nadir is never explained beyond a throwaway reference to the president’s refusal to leave office after his second term in the context of an unknown crisis. Garland also never reveals the motivations of the rebels or how and why they consolidated into their separatist factions. Rather than exploring the real fissures in American politics and society, Garland, whose previous work was mainly in science fiction thrillers, has said in media interviews that he wanted to create a “conversation” about the “extremism” that he believes can result from populism and political polarization.

Garland is British, but he is not alone in his fears of a real second American civil war. According to a YouGov/Economist poll released in August 2022, 43 percent of Americans believe a civil war is at least “somewhat likely” in the next few years. Nearly one in four, according to a separate poll released by the same agency in March 2023, would favor a “national divorce” of red and blue states.

On a wide range of social and political issues, according to a 2021 The Hill/HarrisX poll, about one-third of Americans say they support radical left positions that are in many cases irreconcilable with the country’s founding principles. Still larger percentages profess a fundamental lack of trust in the government, with only 16 percent, according to a 2023 Pew Research Center poll, saying they believe the government will do what is right all or most of the time, compared to 77 percent in 1964.

This distrust extends to major institutions of society. A Gallup poll of Americans’ trust in the media released last October revealed that 68 percent had “not very much” or “none at all,” while another Gallup survey taken earlier in 2023 showed that only 36 percent had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in higher education. In 2022, a majority  for the first time said that they did not trust the federal judiciary.

For at least two decades, such social and political commentators as Bill Bishop and Richard Florida have referred to a “Big Sort,” in which likeminded Americans are increasingly tending to congregate together and live largely separate lives from those on the other side of the political divide. Stories of families and friendships permanently sundered by political differences are commonplace at every level of American society. Civility and empathy are down; cruelty and indifference are up.

There is obviously much to talk about here, including sound arguments suggesting that despite its deep divisions America will not have another civil war, but Garland offers up meager food for thought on that score. His film could better be taken as a warning or cautionary tale.

Indeed, its opening scene shows a confrontation between an angry multiracial crowd of New Yorkers and New York police officers in full riot gear. This is a video image Garland probably did not expect would become jarringly familiar in actual press coverage of riots on our most prestigious university campuses—including four in New York—just days into his film’s release.

With Hollywood’s best special effects at his disposal, Garland shows us torture victims hovering at the threshold of death, capricious and blood-spurting killings, a gruesome mass grave of civilian corpses, close-ups of human bodies being shot by automatic weapons, and brutal urban battle scenes unfolding in the vicinity of the White House that look like the streets of Mogadishu, Fallujah, or Mariupol. With our last civil war 160 years in the past, viewers who may be tempted to romanticize a violent struggle for their version of the American experience will naturally get a sense of how utterly miserable and depraved the next civil war would be. In that sense alone, the unexplained politics of Garland’s film really need no explanation.

Garland shows us this dystopia literally through the lenses of a foursome of photojournalists who venture no strong opinions about the country’s unraveling but are out to get the ultimate scoop by interviewing the beleaguered president. This troop of journos is arrayed around Lee, a gritty, middle-aged professional played affectingly by Kirsten Dunst, and includes the aforementioned Joel, Lee’s retirement-aged black mentor Sammy, and the supremely annoying Gen Z aspirant Jessie, who tags along despite Lee’s objections. Situated in a shell-shocked New York that does not look altogether different from New York in our reality, they must reach Washington over back roads to avoid the devastated infrastructure of the Northeast corridor, which we know as merely distressed. Their perilous journey presents them with ugly truths and moral choices that eluded what were almost certainly the liberal sensibilities of their peacetime lives.

Often they themselves are the ugly ones. Encountering blood-soaked torture victims suspended by their wrists at a rural gas station, Lee asks their tormentors to pose for a photo when one of them gets a little too close to Jessie. When they photograph people being shot to bits, they compliment each other on their professional skills. They indulge in horrific surprise when a psychopathic militia commander presiding over the mass burial of executed civilians ignores their press credentials and asks at gunpoint the film’s defining question: “What kind of American are you?”

The “wrong” kind of American, as an Asian road acquaintance of the group finds out, is marked for elimination by this vicious brute, vividly played by Dunst’s real-life husband, Jesse Plemons, in an uncredited cameo appearance made in the absence of an originally cast actor who could not appear at the last minute. Before we find out what he means to do to the main characters, however, Sammy runs over the gunmen with the journalists’ vehicle, only to be fatally shot as the rescued party drives away. The trope of the sacrificial black man, or “magical Negro” is beyond cliché in contemporary cinema, but the acclaimed Broadway actor Stephen McKinley Henderson brings such gravitas to the role that we see what may be Garland’s greatest strength—drawing a character who can overcome a lifetime of professional cynicism to save his fellow cynics, even at the cost of his life.

Lee’s journey is more ambiguous. Her instinct at Sammy’s death is to photograph his dead body, but upon reflection she deletes the image from her camera. Finally entering Washington alongside the rebel troops, she and her remaining colleagues are among the first to enter the White House, where the president remains holed up despite a ruse suggesting that he had escaped. Before the soldiers find him, Lee is caught in the crossfire as Jessie captures black-and-white images of the unfolding scene. Is Jessie, played by the bland young actress Cailee Spaeny, transformed by her salvation through another’s sacrifice, or will she emerge from the experience as cynical and careerist as Lee?

One leaves Civil War wondering whether its audiences, who have given the film a modest profit as the summer blockbuster season starts to rev up, will really take Garland’s messages to heart. With its weak plot and extreme violence, it seems like the type of film that will take on popular—or more likely cult—connotations radically different from the creator’s intent, much as Franklin J. Schaffner’s intended anti-war biopic Patton, which was written by hippies at the height of the Vietnam War, is now widely revered as a lionizing depiction of a flawed but profoundly heroic American patriot. Instead of a warning about what to avoid, Civil War could be a harbinger of things to come.

The Magic City’s Rise

An interview with Miami mayor Francisco Suarez.

City Journal – Miami began styling itself “The Magic City” just a month after its incorporation in 1896. In recent years, it has lived up to the name, topping lists of the world’s most successful urban centers. As its staggering real estate prices, heavy traffic, stunning beauty, and aura of prosperity testify, Miami has been integral to Florida’s rise to the forefront of American life.

As many cities struggle with resurgent disorder and other urban problems, Miami is a testament to the power of effective municipal government. Earlier this month, I talked with the city’s Republican mayor, Francis X. Suarez, about the origins of what he calls Miami’s “15-year overnight success story.”

Suarez, a commercial real estate lawyer elected mayor in 2017 at 40 after serving for eight years on Miami’s city commission, carries a local legacy. His father, Xavier Suarez, was Miami’s first Cuban-born mayor, serving from 1985 to 1993 and again in an abbreviated term from 1997 to 1998, both times as a Democrat in a state where, in more recent years, the Latino community and general population have shifted steadily to the right. The younger Suarez, Miami’s first locally born mayor, is a Republican. In March, he endorsed former president Donald J. Trump, after briefly challenging him for the 2024 GOP nomination and opposing him in favor of Republican write-in candidates in 2016 and 2020.

Suarez, who recently served as president of the United States Conference of Mayors, demurs from criticizing his fellow office holders. While he believes they want the best for their cities, he has no time for the progressive ideology many espouse. Such leaders “piggybacked on socialism,” he ruefully declares, noting that, in too many American cities today, as in the Cuba of his father’s birth, leftist ideology promises “easy answers.” The results instead serve up harsh reality. Dysfunctional government, punitive business policies, and the politics of resentment, Suarez says, discourage investment and initiative. “All the most productive people leave,” he adds.

When migrants to Florida arrive, they often bring their assets with them. Since 2020, an estimated 56 New York City financial firms moved to the Sunshine State, with additional companies relocating wholly or in part from other blue states. In June 2022, Citadel CEO Ken Griffin, who turned Palm Beach’s Four Seasons Hotel into a trading floor during the Covid-19 pandemic and has acquired much personal real estate on the island, moved his corporate headquarters from Chicago to Miami, where he now resides in equally impressive real-estate holdings. Griffin is now Florida’s richest man—a title he will hold at least until Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos completes his recently announced move from Seattle. Miami has seen an influx of venture capital, tech, artificial intelligence, and other high-growth industries, at the expense of Democratic-run West Coast states and even of Texas.

The reasons for this tectonic shift in economic power are not hard to discern. Richard Irvin, the Republican mayor of Aurora, Illinois, who unsuccessfully challenged Illinois’s Democratic governor J. B. Pritzker in 2022, may have said it best when he declared that his opponent was “either in complete denial or simply refuses to acknowledge what everyone sees, which is that his high-tax, pro-criminal administration is literally driving jobs and businesses out of state.” Griffin said largely the same thing to the Economic Club of Chicago in October 2021, calling Pritzker’s failure to tackle crime and other quality of life issues faced by Citadel employees living and working in his state “a disgrace.”

Suarez was ready for Griffin’s arrival, posting on social media, “I’m excited for Miami to gain someone who shares our innovative spirit and understands the value of community safety and quality of life.” For transplants like Griffin, lawbreaking will pose much less of a concern. Homicides in Miami are now at the lowest level since 1947, when the city began compiling records.

How does Suarez preserve a successful urban government in an America where many other major cities have been heading in the wrong direction in recent years? The mayor’s formula is simple: keep taxes low, keep people safe, and embrace innovation.

Suarez is a low-tax, law-and-order Republican, to be sure, but innovation is the key to understanding his tenure. “See that?” he asked me, gesturing toward a neon sign on the wall of his reception room that says, “How can I help?” Suarez had tweeted those four words—now the title of Suarez’s mayoral podcast and a heavily marketed city slogan—on December 4, 2020, in response to the Bulgarian-born tech venture capitalist Delian Asparouhov, who mused at the height of the pandemic, “[W]hat if we moved [S]ilicon [V]alley to [M]iami”? The exchange went viral, launching a national conversation about Miami and its potential.

Florida was already known for its science-based yet more relaxed Covid restrictions, best-in-the-nation public schools, state constitutional bans on income and inheritance taxes, and commitment to good policing. Miami’s rise was supercharged, however, by its tech market and the billions that poured into it from across the country and, more recently, the world. As Suarez pointed out, Miami now offers direct flights to Dubai, Doha, Istanbul, Tel Aviv, and other destinations in the Middle East, as well as to almost every important European destination. “We had 20 years of growth in two years,” Suarez says of the “tsunami of opportunity” that followed his famous tweet. That two-year period included his reelection in 2021 with nearly 80 percent of the vote and nomination by Forbes as one of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.” “You first recognize the tsunami, then you ride it,” the mayor says. “Normally in a tsunami people take cover. We took out our surf boards.” The growth shows no signs of abating.

As Griffin told his employees in a company letter upon his headquarters move, “Miami is a vibrant, growing metropolis that embodies the American Dream—embracing the possibilities of what can be achieved by a community working to build a future together.” The private sector is paying attention.