- - Saturday, November 16, 2019

The Moody’s financial rating service has downgraded the United Kingdom’s credit outlook to “negative” because of what it calls “Brexit paralysis:” the paralytic effect Brexit has had in U.K. politics. The U.K.’s ruling elite has chosen not to do what the voters asked them to do and has been unable to do virtually anything else. Moody’s could do the same to the United States for a perfectly parallel set of reasons.

Since 2016, both nations’ systems of democratic government have been paralyzed intentionally by their ruling classes and by their broadcast, print and social media. In the U.K., those forces have chosen political paralysis over the voters’ decision to divorce their nation from the European Union. Their American counterparts have afflicted our nation to the same effect because we elected Donald Trump president. 

As 2019 comes to an end and 2020 begins, it seems most likely that the results of 2016 will be repeated.


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In 2016, then-U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron (who should have been embarrassed to call himself a conservative) finally set a date for a referendum on Brexit and set himself to campaign against leaving the European Union. He was supported by the other “Remainers” who populate Parliament and the British media. Despite his best efforts, Brexit was chosen by the voters. Mr. Cameron resigned and the hapless Theresa May — another “Remainer” — succeeded him. 

Mrs. May negotiated a truly awful Brexit deal which would have left the U.K. under the EU’s control and without any authority to affect the EU’s policies. She tried three times to push that deal through the U.K. Parliament and lost each time. Parliament also voted down a no-deal Brexit and pretty much every other alternative. Hence, the paralysis.



Her successor, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, failed to push a slightly revised deal through Parliament and, after several setbacks, managed to get a general election set for Dec. 12.

Enter Nigel Farage, founder of the Brexit Party and probably the most interesting person in English-speaking politics. He created the Brexit Party out of thin air after an argument with the new leaders of his previous party, the pro-Brexit United Kingdom Independence Party. Suddenly, the Brexit Party’s poll numbers were about as high as the Conservatives’. 

The U.K. Parliament has 650 members. On Nov. 11, Mr. Farage announced his decision that the Brexit Party would not contest the 317 seats won by the Conservatives in 2017. That means not only that Mr. Johnson will probably be re-elected, he may win by a large enough margin to form a powerful majority government that can push Brexit through quickly.

Mr. Farage’s action was shocking because he acted on principle, regardless of personal or party interests. He would rather get Brexit done, and done right, than benefit himself or his new party. He may not be Cincinnatus, but he’ll do.

In 2016, establishment politicians of both parties and prominent members of the media were comfortable with the probability that Hillary Clinton would win. The other half of the ruling class, the “deep state,” began creating an “insurance policy” in the form of an intelligence investigation, conducted in secret by the FBI and CIA, into a supposed conspiracy between Mr. Trump’s campaign and the Putin government in Russia to steal the election for Mr. Trump.

When Mrs. Clinton lost, that investigation morphed into an effort to remove Mr. Trump through the second iteration of the Russia collusion investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. 

But the Mueller investigation, too, failed to result in Mr. Trump’s removal, leaving the media aghast that the president might actually serve out his term. So now we have the impeachment proceedings against him which will probably result in his impeachment before Christmas.

While the Democrats and the “deep staters” drag us through round after round of attempts to oust Mr. Trump, we are as paralyzed as the U.K. 

As a conservative, I usually rejoice when Congress is doing nothing because it means it’s not doing anything bad. For three years, essentially nothing other than Senate confirmation of judges and executive branch officials has happened.

In this case, the Democrats in Congress — meaning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her team — have blocked consideration of everything that could benefit Americans’ security and prosperity because it might look like Mr. Trump won a battle.

For example, think about big trade agreements, which are — second only to renaming post offices — the easiest things for Congress to approve. The U.S.-Canada-Mexico Agreement was signed on Nov. 30, 2018. It’s entirely uncontroversial but, for almost a year, Mrs. Pelosi has refused to call it up for a vote.  

The bills that reach the House floor are those which represent the Dems’ agenda and some appropriations measures. The latter always contain “poison pills,” such as bars to funding Mr. Trump’s border wall, that have to be passed in order to avoid a government shutdown. That won’t change as long as the Dems control the House and Mr. Trump remains president.

In sum, two of the two oldest and most powerful democracies in the world have been paralyzed by their ruling elites and their media for the purpose of frustrating the will of the voters. How long that will continue will be decided on Dec. 12, 2019, and on Nov. 3, 2020.

• Jed Babbin, a deputy undersecretary of Defense in the George H.W. Bush administration, is the author of “In the Words of Our Enemies.”

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