Growth Beats Grievance
After a long dalliance with populism, the United States and the United Kingdom do not need more culture wars or political campaigns about “rigged” systems. Rather, as Britain’s new prime minister understands, people need growth, opportunity, and renewed senses of agency and personal responsibility.
WASHINGTON, DC –The United Kingdom’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, is turning the page on self-destructive populism. Meanwhile, the United States continues to wallow in it. If she can navigate her premiership through its current choppy waters and into calmer seas, she might end up providing a model that American conservatives could follow.
The story begins with the 2008 global financial crisis, which created so much slack in US labor markets that inflation-adjusted wages fell for the bottom half of workers for several years running. Not until 2015 did real median wages recover to their 2007 level, and not until 2016 did real wages for the bottom 20th percentile recover.
As typically happens, these economic ramifications from the crisis led to a surge in populism in the US. On the left, democratic socialists like Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont took out pitchforks for the rich, declaring that “there should be no billionaires.” And on the right, Donald Trump ran for the presidency as a nationalist populist and won, defeating a candidate who was closely associated with “the establishment.”
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