Nobody Leave the Room

The New York Times is uncertain whether to break out the champagne or don the sackcloth and ashes over Jeremy Corbyn's electoral gains. Ordinarily "progressives" would be celebrating a success by Labor.   Unfortunately the British Labor party no longer clearly represents the "working class" any more, so it's hard to keep score.  It's as if someone tore up the program to an old familiar play and scrambled the characters onstage.  Consequently the Gray Lady is unable to say with confidence Who's on First.

“Britain doesn’t feel stable anymore,” said Tim Bale, a professor of politics at Queen Mary, University of London. “We’re a European country, with voters becoming more volatile over time. People don’t have the same tribal loyalties that they used to. Voters are more consumerist, much more willing to switch depending on the offer.”

Voters must be wooed by programs and personalities, no longer content with the old, predictable divisions of class and regional identity. Robert Tombs, a historian at St. John’s College at Cambridge, described the breakdown in tribal loyalty this way: “The electorate is no longer an army. It’s a crowd.”

"For Britain, political stability is a quaint relic," it concludes. Thousands of miles away similar perplexity is afflicting Syrian rebels. Former Jabhat al-Nusra official Abu Sulayman explains that Syrian rebel factions are in an agony over whether to side with Saudi Arabia or Qatar and its Turkish and Iranian allies in their latest dispute because many were ready to take money from either side.  Now things have suddenly become complicated.

Just how confusing things have become was shown by Van Jones, who speaking at the People's Summit in Chicago, denounced Hillary Clinton for wasting a billion dollars on a big nothing-burger of an election campaign.  The Hill recounted Jones' tirade.

"The Hillary Clinton campaign did not spend their money on white workers, and they did not spend it on people of color. They spent it on themselves," Jones told a packed house at McCormick Place in Chicago. "They spent it on themselves, let's be honest."

"Let's be honest," Jones continued. "They took a billion dollars, a billion dollars, a billion dollars, and set it on fire, and called it a campaign!"

"That wasn't a campaign. That's not a campaign."

Jones continued, attacking the Clinton campaign's reliance on consultants and polling data that proved to be wrong.

"A billion dollars for consultants. A billion dollars for pollsters. A billion dollars for a data operation, that was run by data dummies who couldn't figure out that maybe people in Michigan needed to be organized."

How could a billion dollars worth of consultants and polling be wrong?  How could the old certainties so radically collapse? Max Fisher and Max Taub of the NYT, baffled, conclude that uncertainty, more than populism, is the new normal in Western politics.  But merely declaring that "leaders must now govern societies reshaped by forces that are barely understood" explains nothing.