From the Right



Political Careers Are Ending in Failure Because of Outdated 'Expert' Theories

Michael Barone on

"All political lives, unless they are cut off at midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs." So said the British politician Enoch Powell, whose own once-stellar career ended in spectacular failure.

Lately, careers have been ending in failure more frequently. Consider Powell's native Britain, which this week installed its fourth Conservative Party prime minister in 12 years. David Cameron resigned after Britons rejected his advice and voted for Brexit in 2016, Theresa May was ousted in 2019 after failing to implement Brexit, Boris Johnson got Brexit done but was ousted for ethics violations this summer and his successor Liz Truss could lose a general election which must be held by January 2025.

Margaret Thatcher was prime minister for 11 years, Tony Blair for 10. The four most recent incumbents' average tenure was four.

Failure is apparent across the English Channel as well. France's allegedly Jupiterian President Emmanuel Macron was reelected in April, but in June voters installed a solid anti-Macron majority in Parliament.

Angela Merkel, hailed by the Economist as German chancellor from 2005 to 2021, has seen her policies repudiated by events. Reliance on Russian natural gas and (in cloudy and not especially windy northern Europe) on wind and solar energy and closure of nuclear plants has left Germans scarfing up firewood to get through the winter.

Merkel's appeasement of Russia was followed by its invasion of Ukraine, and her low military budgets have left Germany unable to provide much help to the Ukrainians. Not since Neville Chamberlain has a leader widely hailed as a statesman been revealed so quickly to be a failure.


Nor is it apparent that the policies of the world's great dictatorial leaders have been crowned with success. Vladimir Putin's demoralized troops have failed to conquer Ukraine; his aggression has pushed Finland and Sweden into applying to join NATO, making the Baltic a NATO lake; his economy has taken a hit and may stagger more in years to come.

His pal Xi Jinping may get another 10-year term as Chinese leader, but China's economy, with a decline in working-age population and stringent COVID-19 lockdowns, is no longer growing rapidly -- or maybe at all. Xi's China has crushed Hong Kong's liberties, but has made enemies of all of China's neighbors.

American leaders are not faring much better. After three successive American presidents have managed to get reelected, albeit with 49%, 51% and 51% of popular votes, their two successors have not managed more than a few moments above 50% job approval.

Donald Trump could claim some positive trends occurred under his watch: lower-income wage gains, low unemployment, border controls that produced a higher-skill legal immigration flow. But COVID-19 lockdowns shut most of the economy down, and violent crime has skyrocketed after the George Floyd riots.


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Copyright 2022 U.S. News and World Report. Distibuted by Creators Syndicate Inc.



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