Is the Donald Trump Era Over? How Boris Johnson Resigning Could Signal a New Direction for American Politics
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has signaled today that he will be resigning from his position, following months of scandal
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has signaled today that he will be resigning from his position, following months of scandal and turbulence.
Johnson has been long considered a parallel for former American President Donald Trump, and his fall from superstardom may be a warning beacon the Trump camp should pay attention to.
In essence, Johnson was forced from power because the conservative party in his country tired of his antics, scandals, and rough-around-the-edges ways. Some believe that it could be paving a path for GOP conservatives who tire of the Trump circus to do the same, and reclaim their party.
Johnson and Trump Share Some World Views
In some ways, they're like twins. Both Johnson and Trump visually resemble one another, with outlandish blonde flyaway hair, oversized suits and long ties. They're even built similarly, with boxy shoulders and physically similar gestures and demeanors.
But the comparisons don't end there.
Trump and Johnson also share a lot of the same world views, both considered populists or nationalists who built their campaigns on the energy harnessed through mistrust of immigrants and targeting of the "other."
Both also speak bluntly, often making their more conservative party members cringe in embarrassment.
Both men have also focused on reclaiming what they consider to be the greatness of their country's past, painting their opponents as more than rivals – they're "enemies."
And in the case of both men, it worked for a long time. They were able to drum up support and enthusiasm among voters who felt unheard and unseen – often white rural voters who believe they're losing opportunities to the changing demographics of the world.
But the conservative party in the UK finally got tired of Johnson's behaviors and ongoing scandals and put pressure on him to resign – which he did after months of refusals.
Some believe that Johnson's fall from power could be a sign of things to come in the United States. While Trump is no longer president and therefore can't resign, his party certainly could take a play out of the book of the UK parliament – and make it too difficult for him to return to power.
But Why Do British Politics Mean Anything for American Politics?
Which begs the question of course, "does this actually mean anything for American politics?"
After all, in the absence of Johnson as Prime Minister, the Queen herself can temporarily choose a replacement – and that alone signals how very different the two countries' political systems are.
But the world itself is going through changes together in recent years. In the UK and United states, the rise of populism and nationalism has preceded its like in other westernized countries. Now, even New Zealand – long considered a bastion of progressive politics – is facing elections with similarly nationalist leaders.
But the pattern can't be ignored. In the UK, Johnson championed Brexit and populist views – and he's losing his power because of it. In the United States, Donald Trump was voted out of office in 2020, possibly before he could reach his party's threshold of tolerance as Johnson did.
So does it all mean anything for the 2024 election? There's a good chance it does. If the GOP sees that it's possible to unhitch their horse from the wave of popularity of Trump and still maintain power and influence, they may choose to do so and pick a nominee who more closely reflects their values – which focus on God and family, two things Trump has struggled to resonate with conservatives on.
But whether that's possible or not remains to be seen. The fallout from Johnson's resignation and how his former allies fare will help paint a picture for what the GOP can plan and expect in 2024.
If Johnson's conservative former friends are hailed as heroes for pushing him out of power and forgiven for their earlier complicity in his wrongdoings, the GOP may hope for the same.
If, however, the fringe voters who installed Johnson to begin with – twins of their American cousins who voted for Trump – pull them from their positions of influence, it's likely the GOP will cling more tightly to Trump than ever.
MSNBC's Steve Benen wrote that Johnson's fall from grace resembled how Richard Nixon's allies turned on him and pushed him from his throne after Watergate, refusing to continue to ride the out-of-control train they'd hitched their stars to. "In other words, British conservatives, confronted with a scandal-plagued leader, concluded they could no longer tolerate the constant stream of disgraces and indignities.
They didn’t bite their tongues in the name of party loyalty; they didn’t keep their heads down fearing blowback from the leader’s followers and allied media. Rather, they concluded that their leader’s record of dishonesty and misconduct was something they could no longer even try to defend.
Imagine if Donald Trump’s cabinet and Republican allies on Capitol Hill were able to follow a similarly principled course."
More will become clear in the weeks to come.