Wondering about the future of the Democratic Party? Just look at Britain’s Labour.
By James Kirchick
March 13, 2019
Less than four years ago, Jeremy Corbyn was an obscure backbencher in the British Parliament. In his 30 years as a member of the Labour Party, his greatest legislative accomplishment was paradoxically the lack of any: From 1997 to 2010, when Labour was last in government, Corbyn was the MP who voted against his own party more than any other. Despite his perpetual insubordinations, successive Labour Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown declined to expel Corbyn from their party. “There was no threat,” a deputy Labour chief whip told the Financial Times about Corbyn and his small band of hard-left rebels in 2016. “These people were tolerated because no one had ever heard of them.”
Today, everyone in British politics has heard of Jeremy Corbyn, who, as leader of Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition, has utterly transformed the Labour Party. Once a broad-based movement that could command large parliamentary majorities, today it is a sectarian personality cult, offering meager resistance to a shambolic Conservative government. Once the party whose leaders created NATO and stood stalwart against the threat of international communism, today Labour is led by people who sing the praises of anti-Western despots and terrorists. And once the natural political home of British Jewry, Labour today is mired in an anti-Semitic morass, to the point where 40 percent of Jews say they would “seriously consider” leaving the country were Corbyn to become prime minister. Indeed, Labour has become so toxic that, last month, nine MPs quit the party, calling it “sickeningly, institutionally racist,” “a threat to national security” and “a danger to the cohesion of our society, the safety of our citizens, and the health of our democracy.”
How Labour reached this deplorable condition is one that should seriously concern liberals in the United States, where a similar dynamic is playing out in the Democratic Party. An insurgent progressivism favorably disposed to socialism, hostile to Jews and openly admiring of Jeremy Corbyn and all that he represents is steadily making inroads against an aging, centrist Democratic establishment. Here, a constellation of elected officials, media personalities, and activists are mimicking the tactics of their ideological comrades in Britain to take over and transform the Democratic Party into a vehicle for their extreme agenda.
The devotees of American Corbynism congregate around Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the “democratic socialist” who, like the British Labour leader, has a long record of overlooking the depredations of left-wing authoritarians abroad. A recently discovered video from 1988 shows the future presidential candidate regaling an American audience with the highlights of a recent trip he and his wife Jane made to the Soviet Union, where he rode on the “very, very effective” transportation system and was wowed by train station “chandeliers that were beautiful.” Just a year before the collapse of the Berlin Wall, these two political pilgrims sounded like Beatrice and Sidney Webb, British socialists who ventured to Josef Stalin’s Russia only to report back smiling peasants and abundant harvests. Sanders, who initially had positive things to say about the late Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian revolution, today stubbornly refuses to call his successor, the brutal Nicolas Maduro, a dictator.
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