Support The Bulwark and subscribe today.
  Join Now

All Shall Gaze Upon the Future—and Despair

The warning from Britain.
December 13, 2019
All Shall Gaze Upon the Future—and Despair
So much #winning. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Amazingly, the coveted AOC endorsement of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party failed to flip the British election. Who knew that a passionate and aggressive leftward turn would prove to be political poison?

And make no mistake about it, Corbyn’s Labour party platform was a progressive, democratic-socialist fever dream. The Labour party promised massive spending, free stuff, and economic revolution. It pledged to “nationalize utilities, railways, and the postal system, offer free university education, increase property taxes and regulation, and build hundreds of thousands of new homes at government expense.”

The result was an electoral shellacking for the ages. The Conservatives are projected to win 364 seats in the House of Commons versus just 203 for Labour. That 75-seat majority would be their largest since Margaret Thatcher’s landslide in 1987. So the good news is that it looks like Corbynism is finished.

The warning for U.S. politics should be obvious. Brexit may have been the topline issue, but what propelled Boris Johnson’s Conservative landslide was a full-throated rejection of Labour’s ambitious Leftism—including its tolerance of toxic anti-Semitism.

This (cough, cough) is what we’ve been warning Democrats about.

What happened was not a loss for the center-left.

And, it wasn’t just about Brexit.

So, the folks who had argued that U.S. progressives should follow Corbyn’s lead, might want to re-evaluate that strategy.

This last point is worth emphasizing a bit. As we contemplate the electoral annihilation of Labour, imagine having written things like this (hat tip Jonathan Chait):

“Only Socialism Can Defeat Trumpism,” by Nicole Aschoff and Bhaskar SunkaraThe NationNovember 2016

“The past year has shown that millions of ordinary people are ready for an alternative, one pointed to by the success of Sanders and the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in Britain. …

“Jeremy Corbyn’s Success is a Model for American Progressives,” By Jame Downie, Washington PostJune 2017

“Corbyn’s success provides a model for U.S. progressives in 2018, 2020 and beyond: If you need turnout to win — as liberals in the United States do — you need a bold, uncompromising platform with real solutions…

“Jeremy Corbyn Is Leading the Left Out of the Wilderness and Toward Power,” by Mehdi Hasan, The Intercept, June 2017

“How Jeremy Corbyn Is Inspiring The American Left,” by Graeme Demianyk, HuffpostUK, July 2017

“Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn Might Create a Revolution,” Robert Borosage, The NationApril 2019

Exit take: If it happened in the U.K., it can happen here too.

Charlie Sykes

Charlie Sykes is a founder and editor-at-large of The Bulwark and the author of How the Right Lost Its Mind. He is also the host of The Bulwark Podcast and an MSNBC contributor.