Friday, June 24, 2016

Opinion: Political dysfunction is the new normal, as Brexit and NoBillNoBreak show

A group of lawmakers gathered on the floor of the House of Representatives in a symbolic and futile effort to promote policy that was unlikely to be effective even if enacted.
No, I’m not talking about gun control, but the Republican effort to overturn the White House fiduciary rule.
As Democrats were gathering in protest of a lack of a vote on gun measures, the Republican-led chamber did take a stand on whether to overturn a rule that would apply fiduciary standards to those promoting retirement advice. They came up well short of the two-thirds majority needed to overturn President Barack Obama’s veto.
Oh, yes, the Democrats were busy with their own futile effort overnight.

Democrats' Maintain Sit-In Over Gun Control
Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives continued their sit-in past 5 a.m. Thursday, chanting "No bill, no break," and singing, "We Shall Overcome." Photo: AP.
One could argue that maybe the best place to start on gun control, to build consensus and to actually reduce violence, is not with a secret list — without judicial review — that would prohibit firearm purchases. In fact, the no-fly list on which the Democrats’ measure is based has already ensnared the very leader of Thursday’s movement, Rep. John Lewis.
This comes as Brits heads to the polls on whether to leave the European Union. Except, if they choose to leave, leaders of the Brexit movement have said they want to pursue some sort of free-trade arrangement with the EU — meaning, in essence, joining right back up with the same group it left under similar rules.
Also read: U.S. stocks rally as investors bet on ‘remain’ win
Regardless of how they vote, Brits are due for a visit from Donald Trump, who is going to a region with even dimmer view of the Republican nominee than the dismal polls he has at home. Trump has succeeded in ripping apart the Republican Party, for immigration policies that not only can’t be enacted but which poison any chance to build a winning coalition.
But there’s a bigger story here. What Trump’s popularity and Britain’s desire to leave the EU and congressional displays of symbolic politics have in common is a backdrop of global trade.
Also read: Brexit is one act in the larger drama of alienation, powerlessness, stagnation
It was inevitable that trade would lift the fortunes of the vastly underpriced labor of China and India, to the detriment of the workers of the West who are struggling to hold onto their way of living. Those struggles are seen in the U.S. and Europe. Fresh data released Thursday show that median annual household incomes, when adjusted for inflation, are below where they were in 2000.

U.K. Heads to Polls in EU Referendum
Voters headed to the polls on Thursday to vote on whether the country should stay in or leave the European Union. The outcome will have wide-ranging consequences in politics, the economy and financial markets, and potentially affect trade and immigration.
The popularity of Trump and Brexit also are associated with reflexive racism and hostility to immigration that peaks at times of economic malaise.
That economic backdrop, seen in hollowed-out towns throughout the country, is what propelled tea-party Republicans into power in the first place just ahead of a redistricting that makes them nearly impossible to unseat. And for congressional Democrats, why not practice symbolic politics if substantive ones aren’t on offer in any event?
In the early hours of Thursday, it looks like Britain will vote to remain in the EU, and that stocks will rise in relief. And while that’s sensible enough, it’s only a matter of time before the next crisis roils financial markets.
The global economy demands it.

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