Bad political chaos in London today, as the pound continues to plunge, and Leave leaders continue to backpeddle on the bill of goods they sold to the public. It makes one think: maybe fearful race-baiting demagogues who promise great things in exchange for opting out of the modern world maybe shouldn’t be listened to?
Remember, one of the Leave leaders, Michael Gove, said that people in Great Britain “have had enough of experts”, i.e. the people saying that Brexit would be a disaster. Does this sound familiar?
Like Mr Cameron, Mr Gove faced intense scrutiny of his campaign tactics, in particular the claim that the UK sends £350m to the EU every week.
Sky’s political editor Faisal Islam said Mr Gove knew that figure was wrong, and accused him of importing the “post-truth” politics of Donald Trump to the UK. The UK Statistics Authority has said the figure “is misleading and undermines trust in official statistics”, because it is a gross sum and does not account for Britain’s rebate and funding received from the EU. In response to Mr Islam, Mr Gove agreed to have the figure independently audited.
A number of economists do favour Britain’s exit from the EU, among them Andrew Lilico, executive director of Europe Economics, and Patrick Minford of Cardiff University.
Mr Gove opted not to name them, however, preferring to focus on how economists and economic organisations had failed to predict the financial crisis. “I’m not asking the public to trust me. I’m asking them to trust themselves,” he said.
That could easily be Trump, as could Boris Johnson’s and Nigel Farage’s idiot claims that the 350 million pounds per week could go to the NHS, a claim from which they are already saying that they didn’t mean literally. Who could be so preposterous as to hold them to that, now?
The Right in America has long held the same weaponized hatreds of experts who challenge their sacred beliefs, and have been able to turn a reliance on boring stats and figures against opponents who use them. “Experts” are disconnected eggheads who hate real Americans and just want to keep driving around in their Ferraris paid for by your tax dollars. In everything from supply-side economics to climate denial, experts are derided and shunned. The only ones that count are the ones explicitly backing their theories. And even then, they pretend to not be experts, but just walking avatars of common sense.
“Common sense” is the key phrase here, a cousin of Gove’s “I’m asking (the public) to trust themselves.” It’s not that experts can’t be wrong or blinded or biased. They aren’t arguing that. They are arguing that, because they are “experts”, they are inherently biased and wrong, because they are against the people. It’s a way to make people who know what they are talking about as an “other”, an alien, in opposition to common decency. Just like immigrants.
It’s a way to lump together everyone who isn’t in the same fearful corner. It’s an easy tactic used by cruel idiots, from Reagan to Farage, and of course, Trump. They don’t have any facts partly because they don’t care, and partly because there just aren’t any to back them up. Truth doesn’t matter as much as a visceral poke to the reptile brain. If you wonder why Trump did so well when he wasn’t a “conservative”, it’s because he was able to directly appeal to fear. He made a tribal connection by creating a small band of insiders and putting everyone else on the outside, whooping around the encircled wagons. I think that’ll doom him the the general, of course. But the tactic, in a post-national world, is only going to get stronger.