Four years ago, almost to the day, the British people took a monumental decision to take back control of their national destiny. Almost simultaneously, the American people chose a president determined to forge a consequential path forward. Central to both was rejection of decline and restoration of global standing.
Ironically, both have met unhinged, entrenched and unprincipled opposition from elite progressive coalitions that favor deeply-flawed transnationals like the European Union or United Nations over sovereign governments and national responsibility.
The U.K. voted by a clear majority to leave the European Union (EU) in late June 2016 against a cacophony of opposition, that included President Obama and his supporters. The four years since have seen opposition forces employ every maneuver to thwart implementation of the vote. Sparing the blow-by-blow, the dissenting “Remainers” did everything possible to support the EU’s flogging of the U.K, trying to make leaving impossibly painful. Theresa May’s lackluster leadership had no answer, making a mockery of her “Brexit means Brexit” pledge.
Enter Boris Johnson with Ms. May’s ouster in July 2019. He became prime minister by winning his party leadership with a promise to carry out the will of the people. This happened without a national election, so Remainer forces still held a majority within Parliament. The anti-Brexit cabal outside Parliament were still strident, too. These comprised the segments of British society — the so-called urban elites, the mainstream media, academia, film and entertainment — whose opposite numbers in the United States scream “Resist” to anything done by President Trump.
Mr. Johnson was hamstrung over Brexit until the election in December 2019. His campaign to “get Brexit done” won a huge majority. The election results showed the British people’s continuing resolve to “take back control.” Even so, Remainers continued, heedless and uncaring of the democratic will, persisting in stonewalling the process.
The same anti-democratic approach has been adopted in the United States by the deranged Trump-haters seeking to overturn the electoral decision that put him into the White House. They loathe his mission to conquer the out-of-control counter-culture of unreasonable demands by a progressive class that would dismantle and re-write the narratives and history upon which America was founded.
Every Trump policy or gesture is opposed and scorned, no matter its merits or target. Every problem is his fault, regardless whether a legacy of extended Democratic administration — policing and welfare in the inner cities of Chicago and Minneapolis for instance. The narrative is that Mr. Trump is “racist” even though he has done more to benefit African-American communities economically than any predecessor. He is claimed to be homophobic, generally hated in the gay community, in spite of securing historic donations of billions of dollars in HIV prevention drugs.
Like the Remainer campaign in the U.K., “Trump Derangement Syndrome” impels use of any weapon without scruple. Every aspect of Mr. Trump’s personal world is fair game — targeting, probing and scrutinizing his friends, family and businesses. At the outset, there was improper deployment of spy agencies against his campaign. This continued with transition-tampering — the Flynn entrapment the most egregious example. Post-inauguration, the fiction of foreign influence was pursued to delegitimize. When that failed came House Speak Nancy Pelosi’s attempt on frivolous grounds to remove Mr. Trump through impeachment.
For its part, global media continue relentlessly, beating an all-or-nothing drum against Mr. Trump, Mr. Johnson and Brexit, professing and projecting to know what others think and feel — defaulting to “racism” when all else fails.
Some parallels exist with the Ronald Reagan-Margaret Thatcher era. Then as now, the voter choices were guided by what author and scholar John O’Sullivan calls “an upsurge of popular anger over evident failures of public policy …”
In the 1980s, Reagan and Thatcher were voted in after their respective countries had experienced similar periods of intolerable decline and loss of confidence owing to poor leadership. Both were driven by commitment and vision to confront and thereby transform the prospects of their nations. Mr. Trump’s conviction that adversaries and weak-limbed allies need to be called out — and Boris delivering Brexit to re-establish an outward-looking, global Britain — may well be judged by history in the same way.
The U.S. and the U.K. are great nations with values, opportunities and cultures second to none. This is why migration flows to, not away, from them. Post-modern progressives such as Mr. Obama, Mr. Biden and Jeremy Corbyn deny what makes their countries special, in fact, deny that they are special. Theirs is a narrative of fault and guilt, with an outcome that would achieve equality by tearing down, not building up. This is the path to hell — paved with good intentions or not.
Mr. Johnson and Mr. Trump see this for what it is and reject it resolutely. By the end of the year, one hopes with Brexit done and Mr. Trump re-elected, they will be worthy inheritors of the mantles of Thatcher and Reagan.
• Lee Cohen, a fellow of the Danube Institute and a specialist on U.S-U.K. policy, for years advised the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and founded the Congressional United Kingdom Caucus.
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