Boris Johnson and the worst of times

by Emrys Westacott

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

I suspect there are many who feel that this Dickensian paradox applies to their own life and times. I certainly do. If you’re fortunate enough to have a sufficient income, a comfortable home, loving family and friends, decent physical and mental health, and plenty of interests to pursue, then life is good. But then a lying, narcissistic, cynical, conman like Boris Johnson is ensconced in power in the UK for five years, and things are not good. One dwells in the Slough of Despond.

This odd disconnect between the relative pleasantness of one’s own circumstances and an appalled sense that, on so many counts (poverty, inequality, political corruption, news media, environmental damage…..), the world is heading in the wrong direction, has become a familiar, ever-present condition for many of us.

Interestingly, the disconnect seems to be not only experienced by people on the left. The median household income of Trump supporters during the 2016 Republican primaries was $72,000 (compared to a national median household income figure of $56,000). Historically and geographically speaking, $72K is a decent chunk of change which for most people should make possible a fairly comfortable lifestyle. And in fact, a 2017 PRRI study concluded that Trump supporters were not so much motivated by dissatisfaction with their own economic circumstances as by fears about cultural displacement (of whites by minorities and immigrants).[1] For most of them, too, their fear, anger, and dissatisfaction concerned the state of the nation rather than their personal circumstances. Read more »