It is admittedly a peculiar time to envy our cousins in the United Kingdom, torn asunder as they are by Brexit. The Brits’ national division is as deep and rancorous as ours, and when they sever their unfettered economic access to the 27 nations and 500 million people in the European Union, the rift will be permanent. But here’s what I envy: When Parliament recently voted to hold a new election to determine whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson has enough popular support to go ahead with his Brexit plan, it set a date of Dec. 12. Johnson and his adversaries will have six weeks in total to campaign before the citizens decide their nation’s future. How very reasonable—especially when compared with the U.S.’s permanent presidential campaign.
On the day he took office in 2016, President Trump officially filed to set up his re-election campaign and soon began fundraising. A stampede of two dozen Democratic candidates began jumping into the race in mid-2017. After six months of campaigning, speeches, and debates, we’re still three months away from the Iowa caucuses; after that, we will be engulfed in nine more months of primary and general-election politicking, with the two parties spending as much as $10 billion to carpet-bomb us with ads. As the Brits might say, A bit excessive, don’t you think? It’s also admirable that the British treat their prime minister with no great deference, but rather as a hired public servant to be held to account. Every week, the PM must go before Parliament for Question Time, during which rivals and adversaries demand that he or she explain and defend his or her policies. There’s plenty of wit in the exchanges, and sharp, even insulting language. It’s a fine spectacle, and for the PM, a humbling one. In the U.S., it would be considered disrespectful to speak to any president this way; we have turned our presidents into kings. Given why we declared independence from Britain, that’s a bit ironic, don’t you think?