This week’s Mere Fidelity is on the subject of the rise of populism in British and American politics. Matt is back and discusses the subject with Andrew and me.
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I think this podcast is brilliant and I will probably listen to it again. I was really impressed with your definition of the character of Trump, and I think he is indeed a ‘despicable and horrible candidate’, as Matthew put it ‘ – considerable improvements on my descriptions of Trump which are at best ‘a bull in a china shop’, and at worst unrepeatable.
I have many thoughts and many questions, but one main concern for me now is the shambles that the Labour Party has become. Amongst many other factors it seems to me that there is an irreconcilable clash between the representational democracy that resulted in the election of all Labour MPs, and the direct democracy which could result in paid-up members of the Labour Party overwhelmingly voting for Corbyn rather than Smith in September, leaving most of our elected Labour MPs with a leader they do not want. Corbyn seems to be mainly dreaming about becoming a future Prime Minister, and he seems to have supreme confidence in that dream becoming a reality. Andy Burnham seems to be mainly interested in becoming Mayor of Manchester. The Shadow Cabinet is, as far as I can see, more of a rumour than a reality – the Opposition is not doing its job of opposing the Government. In the 2015 Election I voted for the local Labour candidate, who lost to a Conservative candidate who was new to politics. If the Labour candidate had won, I would now be concerned about whether or not he was a Corbynista (hopefully not!) – I could easily become focussed on a personality, rather than on policies. I must say that unless a miracle happens in the Labour Party, I will be reluctant to vote Labour again.
In the meantime, Theresa May has had talks with Nicola Sturgeon, Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande, Arlene Foster, Martin McGuinness and Matteo Renzi – she has rolled up her sleeves and pitched into the task of pouring oil on the troubled waters of a potentially broken UK and a potentially broken EU in the wake of the Brexit Referendum. I have never voted Conservative, but I am relieved that she is our PM – the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and so far I think the ‘May-pudding’ is pretty good!.
I am not au fait with all the complexities you discussed in your podcast, but I hope that, during the course of the next American Presidency, a good leader such as Theresa May will arise out of the snake-pit, and I hope that Trump does not get a chance to press the nuclear button first. Do I hope in vain? I would love to know your thoughts on this.
I find the current situation in the Labour Party extremely concerning for British politics more generally. And, yes, we could do a lot, lot worse than Theresa May right now.
I must say, though, I don’t hold many high hopes for the immediate future of American politics.
Thank you, Alastair. Yes, the disorder in the Labour Party is probably symptomatic of a deeper malaise in British politics more generally.
I find the situation in American politics scary and I’m just clutching at straws when I hope for better things.
for populist movements in American evangelicalism I would suggest that residual dispensationalist/futurist apocalyptic seems like it would preclude the kind of long-term strategizing mentioned in the podcast as something that needs consideration. Particularly being ex-Pentecostal it’s tough to plan long-term if you’re part of a Christian tradition that’s anticipating the Secret Rapture being a possibility any time within the next calendar year. As that kind of dispensationalist/futurist theology loses traction it’s possible American evangelicals “could” be less susceptible to populists in some ways but only in the sense that they might resist framing one candidate or another as an Antichrist but in a way that doesn’t implicate the power structure of United States governance itself (since, after all, if the candidate “I” want actually wins, “I” can’t very well have to identify him/her as the Antichrist).