Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

sachs312_MattDunhamAFPGettyImages_johnsontrumptheresamay Matt Dunham/AFP/Getty Images

The Crisis of Anglo-American Democracy

There is an obvious answer to the question of how the world's two oldest and most venerable democracies installed disordered minds in power and enabled them to pursue unpopular policies. But there is also a deeper explanation.

NEW YORK – How did the world’s two most venerable and influential democracies – the United Kingdom and the United States – end up with Donald Trump and Boris Johnson at the helm? Trump is not wrong to call Johnson the “Britain Trump” (sic). Nor is this merely a matter of similar personalities or styles: it is also a reflection of glaring flaws in the political institutions that enabled such men to win power.

Both Trump and Johnson have what the Irish physicist and psychologist Ian Hughes calls “disordered minds.” Trump is a chronic liar, purveyor of racism, and large-scale tax cheat. US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his 22-month investigation of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign described repeated cases of Trump’s obstruction of justice. Trump stands accused by more than 20 women of sexual predation, a behavior he bragged about on tape, and directed his attorney to make illegal payments of hush money that constituted campaign finance violations.

Johnson’s personal behavior is similarly incontinent. He is widely regarded as a chronic liar and as unkempt in personal life, including two failed marriages and an apparent domestic altercation on the eve of becoming prime minister. He has been repeatedly fired from jobs for lying and other disreputable behavior. He led the Brexit campaign in 2016 on claims that have been proven false. As British Foreign Secretary, he twice leaked secret intelligence – in one case, French intelligence about Libya, and in another case British intelligence about Iran. Like Trump, he has a high disapproval rating among all age groups, and his approval ratings rise with voter age.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/tUc49nh;
  1. op_campanella7_Aurelien MeunierGetty Images_billgatesrichardbransonthumbsup Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

    Abolish the Billionaires?

    Edoardo Campanella

    Even many of the wealthiest Americans would agree that the United States needs to overhaul its tax policies to restore a sense of social justice. But, notes Edoardo Campanella, Future of the World Fellow at IE University's Center for the Governance of Change, such reforms would not be enough to restart the engines of social mobility and promote greater equality of opportunity.

    3
  2. oneill69_Malte Mueller Getty Images_handholdingdollarsign Malte Mueller/Getty Images

    A Living Wage for Capitalism

    Jim O'Neill

    Higher nominal wages for low-paid workers can boost real earnings, increase consumer spending, and help make housing more affordable. And insofar as raising the minimum would increase companies’ wage bill, it would create a stronger incentive to replace labor with capital, which could lay the foundation for renewed productivity growth.

    1