Blogs
How Democratic Parochialism Strangles Nations
Next Post

Press {{ keys }} + D to make this page bookmarked.

Close
Photo: flickr.com

How Democratic Parochialism Strangles Nations

515

Conservative thought historically has tended to value the local above all else. Sensibly it has determined that the local relation is the purest for a variety of reasons. Not only has it seen such arrangements as empowering the everyman over and above faceless bureaucrats (we must remember conservatism at its heart has a sort of romantic realism concerning lowly people, recognising their limits and yet also seeing in them something of the untainted), but also it has viewed social ties as being more practical where maintained by those who have a more intimate knowledge of problems at hand. We prefer the idea that the problems of our village for example will be solved by those who live in the village and understand its unique character and peculiarities, rather than some kind of politburo in a distant capital. A deeply centralised state enables politics to become less about problem-solving and more about transactions. To quote the French thinker Louis de Bonald, “wise government should constitute the administration in such a way that individuals have the fewest possible occasions to ask favors, and the administration the fewest possible occasions to bestow them”[i].

However, President Donald Trump’s whirlwind tour of Europe exposes a fundamental flaw in this idea as it pertains to nationwide democracy, in both the United States and in Britain. Congressional representatives and members of parliament respectively are supposed to be representative of local interests. This was their purpose, and the supposed advantage of such a system as opposed to, for example, one in which national vote share apportions party representation at the federal level. Recent events serve to illustrate where this ceases to be a benefit to the smooth functioning of the state, and actually becomes a hindrance.

In Britain, from before he even became the Republican Party’s nominee in 2016, President Donald Trump has been a deeply unpopular figure outside of a small segment of the population who revel in his reputation as a disruptor. Not only has the British media elite, which is somehow even more snobbish and bourgeois than its American counterpart, despised this man who for them is a scion of bigotry and reactionary small-mindedness, but Trump is also inherently inimical to the British character. To borrow a description, Trump is “tough, rough, says what he thinks, rude, emotional and, apparently, candid”[ii]. This is everything British people are not. As such, on their part, the nationwide hostility to Trump is more genuine than engineered. While the British government under Theresa May has exercised the expected diplomatic courtesy towards the foreign leader, individual members of parliament have seen reason for no such restraint, regardless of party. From the very beginning they have attacked and denounced the US president in no uncertain terms. David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham declared “If Trump comes to the UK I will be out protesting on the streets. He is a racist KKK and Nazi sympathiser”[iii]. Sarah Wollaston, Conservative MP for Totnes meanwhile considered Trump a “sickening piece of work”[iv]. Most recently, Labour mayor of London Sadiq Khan saw fit to humiliate the visiting president by granting hyper-liberal zealots permission to fly a mid-sized balloon depicting him as a baby. All of these petty political figures are acting in ways that appease their voters’ inherent dislike of Trump.

In the wake of the Helsinki summit in which Trump sat down for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Democrats representing constituencies of ever-more apoplectic and hysterical members of the #Resistance who genuinely believe Russia somehow stole the presidential election have gone as far as to say that the talks represented a 9/11-level state emergency[v], that Trump was committing treason[vi], and even that a military coup should be undertaken[vii].

In both countries, these hysterics display what happens when parochial figures are permitted to have their voices heard, and in some cases their will enacted, in sensitive matters of state. Donald Trump is not the president of San Francisco, nor was he visiting Totnes. He is the President of the Unites States, and he was visiting Britain. When such things take place, the national takes precedence, or at least it should, yet the unwritten rule about not criticising the president when he is on foreign soil has long since been thrown to the wind in favour of electioneering on the back of sabotaging affairs of state. When it comes to London mayor Sadiq Khan, or 9th District TN representative Steve Cohen, they simply do not care if a Brexit trade deal falls through, or world peace is sacrificed to hysteria. They have only their small electoral bubble to tend to, and grandstanding over international matters helps turn out their base.

This is where the localist instinct fails. When small men representing small places snipe at big men representing big places, they know they cannot be held accountable. Trump can hardly retaliate against specific localities. The state turns in on itself, it betrays itself in a mire of petty local politics which somehow manages to grip the throat of the entire nation. Governments cannot prevent foreign leaders and dignitaries from being insulted, and states cannot even function on the international stage without constant uproar, the din of second-string gardeners shaking their watering cans in anger at the sky which brings rain to the entire world. Dysfunction and anarchy come to reign over the nation when the local is given a democratic voice in the national and further, the international. We should not however blame the original prophets of localism, for after all, they were deeply suspicious of democracy in general.


[i] Blum C. Critics Of The Enlightenment. Wilmington, Del: ISI Books; 2004:75.

[ii] Dugin A. Russian Geopolitician: Trump is Real America. Katehon Think Tank.  http://katehon.com/article/russian-geopolitician-trump-real-america. Published 2016.

[iii] Kentish B. Donald Trump is a 'racist KKK and Nazi sympathiser', MP says. The Independent. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/onald-trump-racist-kkk-nazi-white-supremacist-david-lammy-labour-mp-a7968666.html. Published 2017.

[iv] Trump 'A Sickening Piece of Work' Says Devon MP. ITV News. http://www.itv.com/news/westcountry/2017-01-29/trump-a-sickening-piece-of-work-says-devon-mp/. Published 2017.

[v] Folley A. Dem Lawmaker Calls Russian Meddling a 9/11-Level National Emergency. The Hill. http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/397607-dem-lawmaker-calls-russia-meddling-a-9-11-level-national. Published 2018.

[vi] Trump Faces Bipartisan Rebuke Over 'Treasonous' Summit With Putin. Aljazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/07/trump-faces-bipartisan-rebuke-treasonous-summit-putin-180717062035146.html. Published 2018.

[vii] Did House Dem Cohen Just Call for a Military Coup Against Trump?. Sputnik News. https://sputniknews.com/us/201807171066416360-dem-cohen-trump-military-coup/. Published 2018.

Author: K. E. Benois