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When the rules don't apply: They had Boris, we've got Donald

Boris Johnson and Donald Trump

Richard Davies asks: How did the U.K. and the U.S. end up with Boris Johnson and Donald Trump?

Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Davies is a podcast consultant, host and solutions journalist at daviescontent.com.

I'm constantly amazed by how social and political trends skip borders, continents and oceans — especially between the U.K. and the USA.

I've lived and worked in both countries and saw the similarities first hand.

Britain and America of the 1980s turned sharply right with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Their styles were very different, but both were enormously popular for much of their time in office, and ushered in a period of firm leadership after the drift and malaise of the ‘70s.

Then came the “third way” politics of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair for much of the 1990s. Both men were center-left, easily won reelection, and benefited from pragmatic policies and successful economies, while standing up to the hardline progressives and socialists in their parties.

From 2000 to 2015 the U.K.-U.S. political parallels faded, but then came the Brexit shock, and the election of two charismatic, yet deeply flawed populists — Donald Trump and Boris Johnson.


During their time in office both of these unserious men gleefully broke the rules of normal political behavior. More than almost any other American or British leader, Boris and Donald simply don't think the rules apply to them.

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"Like America’s former president, Donald Trump, the more he hung on the more he disqualified himself from office," The Economist wrote last week. "In his departure, as in government, Mr Johnson demonstrated a wanton disregard for the interests of his party and the nation."

The tawdry events of recent weeks in London have echoes in Washington with the highly disturbing findings of the House of Representatives' Jan. 6 committee.

"Boris Johnson was a very very silly person to make Prime Minister," wrote the contrarian conservative columnist Chris Stirewalt. "How he ended up in 10 Downing Street and persisted there for so long despite massive ineptitude and scandal is very much like how America ended up with a similarly silly president who nearly ended up winning re-election despite his chaotic, corrupt tenure."

Now we are prompted to ask two questions: How the heck did this happen and will both the Yanks and Brits make the same awful mistakes again?

The answer has much to do with whether politics on both sides of the Atlantic is seen as mere entertainment or the serious stuff of governance.

At their rallies and public events, Trump and Johnson often appeared to be having the time of their lives. Both were adored by their supporters, who laughed at their jokes and roared with approval as they lit into the establishment.

As time went by the exhausted majority became sick of them. Perhaps ... hopefully ... an era has passed.

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Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Rep. Don Bacon

Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Rep. Don Bacon won the "Life in Congress" award from the Congressional Management Foundation.

The best bosses in an unusual work environment: Capitol Hill

Fitch is the president and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation and a former congressional staffer.

Our nation’s capital is known for many things — but good management practices are not among them. Stories regularly surface of bizarre tales of harassment and abuse by members of Congress. An Instagram feed a few years ago unearthed dozens of stories by staff outing less-than-desirable managers and members for their bad practices. But what about the good leaders and good managers?

Like any profession, Congress actually has quite a few exemplary office leaders. And the beneficiaries of these role models are not just their staff — it’s also their constituents. When a congressional office can retain great talent, sometimes over decades, the quality of the final legislative product or constituent service rises immensely.

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Rep. Gus Bilirakis and Rep. Ayanna Pressley

Rep. Gus Bilirakis and Rep. Ayanna Pressley won the Congressional Management Foundation's Democracy Award for Constituent Accountability and Accessibility.

Official portraits

Some leaders don’t want to be held accountable. These two expect it.

Fitch is president and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation and a former congressional staffer.

There is probably no more important concept in the compact between elected officials and those who elect them than accountability. One of the founding principles of American democracy is that members of Congress are ultimately accountable to their constituents, both politically and morally. Most members of Congress get this, but how they demonstrate and implement that concept varies. The two winners of the Congressional Management Foundation’s Democracy Award for Constituent Accountability and Accessibility clearly understand and excel at this concept.

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Woman speaking at a microphone

Rep. Lucy McBath is the first lawmaker from Georgia to win a Democracy Awarrd.

Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Surprise: Some great public servants are actually members of Congress

Fitch is the president and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation and a former congressional staffer.

TheCongressional Management Foundation today announced the winners of the seventh annual Democracy Awards, CMF’s program recognizing non-legislative achievement and performance in congressional offices and by members of Congress. Two members of Congress, one Democrat and one Republican, are recognized in four categories related to their work in Congress.

Americans usually only hear about Congress when something goes wrong. The Democracy Awards shines a light on Congress when it does something right. These members of Congress and their staff deserve recognition for their work to improve accountability in government, modernize their work environments and serve their constituents.

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Can George Washington inspire Biden to greatness?

Clancy is co-founder of Citizen Connect and board member of the Bridge Alliance Education Fund. Citizen Connect is an initiative of the Bridge Alliance Education Fund, which also operates The Fulcrum.

King George III reputedly said George Washington was the greatest man in the world for voluntarily relinquishing power. The indisputable fact is that Washington’s action remains remarkable in human history. And he actually did it at least two times.

On Dec. 23, 1783, Washington resigned his commission as commander of the Continental Army and returned to Mount Vernon. He did it again when he declined to run for a third term as president by publishing his Farewell Address on Sept. 19, 1796. In June 1799 Washington was yet again urged to run for president and declined.

His reasoning on each occasion was a complex mix of the personal and political, but the bedrock was an unwavering commitment to put the good of the nation above personal gain and the factions that would ultimately become our toxic party system.

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Joe Biden at the debate

After his disastrous peformance at the debate, President Biden needs to exit the race, writes Breslin.

Kyle Mazza/Anadolu via Getty Images

Getting into the highest offices is hard. Getting out is harder.

Breslin is the Joseph C. Palamountain Jr. Chair of Political Science at Skidmore College and author of “A Constitution for the Living: Imagining How Five Generations of Americans Would Rewrite the Nation’s Fundamental Law.”

This is the latest in “A Republic, if we can keep it,” a series to assist American citizens on the bumpy road ahead this election year. By highlighting components, principles and stories of the Constitution, Breslin hopes to remind us that the American political experiment remains, in the words of Alexander Hamilton, the “most interesting in the world.”

Getting into America’s highest political offices is hard. Getting out is harder.

President Joe Biden’s disastrous debate performance has intensified calls for him to step aside. Not even 24 hours after his poor showing, The New York Times took the extraordinary and unprecedented position that the sitting president should immediately pass the torch to a more energetic and electable candidate. “The greatest public service Mr. Biden can now perform,” the editorial board declared, “is to announce that he will not continue to run for re-election.”

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