Gerald Seib writes in The Wall Street Journal that it makes sense that, in an age of technological disruption, it figures that the most important trend in international politics is the rise of disruption in our traditional political system. And, of course, the disrupter-in-chief is Donald Trump, who has now been joined by the new UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, bolstered by the sentiment that produced the Brexit disruption. There are other players that fit the description he has in mind, in India, Hungary, Pakistan, Spain, Brazil, and even France, but the Trump/Johnson phenomenon is most prominent in our thinking. And while they do not necessarily share ideology, there is an underlying trend toward nationalism for most of these movements tied to the fears of economic globalization fueled by rapidly advancing technological innovation. And a common ingredient is the feeling that prevailing political systems and elites have failed in addressing their grievances.
Following on Seib’s thoughts were perceptive comments by Gerard Baker on the lead disrupters and their enemies, worth quoting: “The issue is not that the two men (Trump and Johnson) are above reproach or that critics don’t have a case. The problem is that what really animates so many of their more deranged enemies is an absolute refusal even to come to terms with the political context that produced the Trump-Brexit condominium. It remains a constant source of astonishment to me that, three years on from the Brexit-Trump shock, the people who control most of our public dialogue seem to refuse to accept that there is any legitimacy to the political sentiments that caused it………There’s never been a serious effort to understand why so many voters have found the existing political order in need of a radical change”. Well put and my sentiments precisely.