Thickly daubed upon her milk-white breasts was a poignant message. Across the sternum: “Brexit.” Above the right breast: “Leaves.” Above the left: “Britain.” Under both pendulous offerings: “Naked.”
This wasn’t an exhibit at the Tate Modern. But live TV.
The owner of the breasts, Dr. Victoria Bateman, an economics fellow at Cambridge University, is, as you may have deduced, not too happy about our looming departure from the European Union. Her point, had something to do with the emperor’s new clothes. Or scantily-clad women in advertising. Or apparently “voiceless” women.
Dr. Bateman takes her clothes off in protest. But she is “not an exhibitionist.” And this is definitely not about her. She’s merely naked. On one of the country’s most-watched TV shows. In front of millions. Of whom only the most determined, and discerning, would actually get to read the message on her blurred-out breasts.
But was this theatre of seemingly impregnable confidence, or something else entirely? Had Great Britain voted to remain, I’m faintly sure Nigel Farage wouldn’t have treated the nation to his sunlessly British torso.
Such bizarre behavior has gained currency among the losers of 2016. The Remainers. Hillary’s voters.
The supremely confident, the forward-thinking, the producers, the open, the Uberized, have struggled with reality since.
Because most of us didn’t fancy playing their game. The globalized, “open society” did not appeal. Unaccountably, we did not care for the cogs which they lubricated with paeans to equality while presiding over the opposite.
Pointedly, Ms. Bateman had a point:
The British economy faces many, many problems right now: shortage of housing, problems with the NHS, wages stagnating, too many people up and down the country using food banks.
The key message that I want to deliver is that Brexit is the emperor’s new clothes. What high-profile Brexiteers promised Brexit voters is just not possible to deliver.
Just not possible! What’s curious is that these ailments are largely the result of 30 years in thrall to the uncaring whims of an unfettered market wedded to an overweening state.
Breaking free of the EU wasn’t some hankering for a time “when faces were white,” but a rejection of the insecurity that cloaks itself in a see-through “freedom” cape while stoking social and economic apartheid.
Because those who rule like to claim that the status quo is a mad conjuring of nature. Those jobs made their own way to China. Borders cannot be plugged. It’s just the way it is. Once Trump is impeached, once Brexit is overturned, all will return to tepid normality.
Perhaps the circus of the bizarre rolls on precisely because reality dawns. Trump isn’t going anywhere. Brexit, though wading in treacle, is almost done. In France, whose own elite elected the apparent savior of the status-quo, roils gloriously each weekend in yellow-vested protest.
Those now ambered in insecurity watch on in pain as those they told to “learn to code” reorder the world around them into something at least feigning sanity.
It’s not going away. European parliamentary elections this May should elect one-third in the populist mold. What the Financial Times hastily dubs “peak populism” has mutated into something much more serious as populist outsiders shapeshift the mainstream parties.
Curiously, this shift preceded President Trump, yet now lags behind his capture of the GOP.
In his recent state of the union address, Trump’s melding of policy left most Americans nodding in agreement. A strong majority also agreed with his sensible immigration comments, understanding, contra the naysayers, that controlled borders don’t mean building Fortress America. That fixing trade deals doesn’t amount to a dreaded and mindless “protectionism.” That the market doesn’t and shouldn’t rule all and expect fealty from those it is meant to serve.
That was before the AOC-sized gift of the Green New Deal gave Trump, and the Republicans something to aim at.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a permanent feature on any politico’s newsfeed, has elevated above Nancy Pelosi in the negative ad Olympics. Her manipulation of the media is Trump-like in its effectiveness.
And for good reason. Some of the Green New Deal’s more quixotic elements offer what the president himself has said amount to a “high school paper with a low mark.” And near forty percent of Americans regard its cheerleader as unfavorable.
Perhaps Americans aren’t particular fans of the president. But we know this already. They didn’t elect a priest. They sent him to move fast and break things.
What better than to contrast Trump’s common-sense offering of once bipartisan aims, with the ramblings of political impossibility. Banning air travel? Bovine diapers? Lord. What could be sillier and more politically impotent? Apart from plastering one’s breasts in pointless rhetoric, that is.
Photo Credit: Good Morning Britain