On the dangers of comparing every political event to Donald Trump


A PATTERN is emerging in political journalism. Whenever something can be construed as a rejection of the establishment, or a win for authoritarianism, or a triumph for swaggering, braces-twanging bombast—or some other shift the writer does not like—the subject is ascribed to a global Trump-ite revolution. Often this comes without nuance.

Take this week. On Monday responses to the election of a statist, pro-death-penalty MEP as UKIP leader obeyed the trend. “Paul Nuttall: Poundshop Trump” ran one much-shared tweet; “Trump minus the wig” was another. Today Tim Farron, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, called his centrist party’s victory in the Richmond Park by-election a “repudiation” of Mr Trump. On Sunday Italians may reject their government’s proposed constitutional reforms: “Italy has a Trump of its own” claimed a Haaretz headline of the leader of the “No” campaign. Also on Sunday a presidential election in Austria could produce Europe’s first far-right head of state since 1945. “Austrian nationalists hope for a ‘Trump bump’” fretted today’s Washington Post. Barely a day goes by without politics somewhere being related to the president elect’s shock victory.

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