[guest post by JVW]
Writing today in Powerline, Steven Hayward makes an interesting and apt comparison between the whinging of the left establishment in Britain over the divisive Brexit vote and the ongoing whining of the establishment left in America over the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision by a divided Supreme Court. Hayward actually immediately pivots his post to a discussion of the Brexit vote in relation to the vote on Proposition 13 to limit property tax increases in California in 1978, a vote which the left establishment of the Golden State still blames for the alleged inability to “properly” fund “necessary” government programs nearly 40 years later.
But I want to tease out a bit more on Hayward’s initial comparison of Brexit to Citizens United. From the moment that the Court held that the government may not restrict individuals, corporations (both for-profit and non-profit), labor unions, or other affiliated groups from independently (i.e., not coordinated with campaigns or parties) spending their money on political advocacy, the establishment left (along with certain members of the establishment right) have complained that this decision is a Pandora’s Box that has unleashed all of today’s evils. We certainly remember President Obama’s petulant remonstration of the Court majority at his State of the Union Address one week after the decision was announced, but six-plus years later the kvetching remains unabated. From insinuations that the ruling opened the door to foreign meddling in our election to claims that the ruling was the cause of Republican down-ballot success in subsequent years, it seems that there is little the left won’t attribute to the baneful aftermath of the ruling.
As if all this gross overreaction wasn’t embarrassing enough, the California State Senator who represent both Patterico and me (a man for whom we both reluctantly voted) has collaborated with a insufferable leftwing San Francisco colleague to demand a public advisory vote on a measure to instruct California’s Congressional delegation to overturn Citizens United, a ballot measure which will add yet more fluff to a November ballot already chock full of candidates, judges, propositions, and referenda. And of course, this outcome is staunchly supported by my preening, ambitious Congressman who never misses an opportunity to pander to the progressive elite to enhance his career. Frankly, clearing out the corruption and sleaze of the state’s Democrat elected officials ought to be a higher priority than these fatuous antics, but that’s actual meaningful work rather than the kind of grandstanding so popular with the elected class.
But allow me here to get out of the weeds and back to the main point that Hayward proposed: the Brexit vote is soon to become the Euro-elite’s (especially the left Euro-elite, since much of the right Euro-elite seems resigned to their fate) version of Citizens United, the catch-all for any ill that befalls Britain. England manages to lose to Iceland tomorrow in the European Soccer Championships? The fault of Brexit. Emma Watson’s next movie is a dud at the box office? Backlash against Brexit among American movie-goers. Flea beetles attack the sugar beet crop? Wouldn’t have happened before Brexit. To read the overwrought melodramatic opinion-writers in publications of the British left like the Guardian, the New Statesman, and Tribune is to understand the sheer terror felt by the credentialed and opinionated class that an albeit-slight majority of their countrymen no longer want to be part of the Grand European Project. Expect this shrill and alarmist tone to carry on now that the complicated task of extracating the U.K. from the EU is set to begin.