1. It’s Friday, May 8, 2015. It is a glorious day in the New York metropolitan area. It is a reward for enduring the crap we endured this winter.
2. It is the 70th anniversary of Germany’s surrender to the Allies in World War II. It is a day celebrated throughout Europe (although I don’t imagine there’s a lot of festivity in Germany). Americans get a little more excited about V-J Day, the day the Japanese surrendered, which is in August.
3. I hadn’t followed it closely, but I found myself fascinated by yesterday’s British parliamentary election. Having spent a week in the U.K. last spring and watching the BBC for hours last night doesn’t make me an expert, but I did find myself thinking about the vote a lot.
4. First of all, the comparison of Camerons I made in the headline might sound a little far-fetched. But stay with me.
In baseball, a really good center fielder covers the biggest swatch of the outfield. The left and right fielders stay closer to the lines. The center fielder therefore gets most of the fly balls — even some he has to range to his left or right to get.
That seems to be what happened last night in Britain.
Labour (I’ll use the U.K. spelling because that’s what the party uses) stayed over to the left — I heard some fairly liberal folks complain that a Labour win would wipe out their income with taxes approaching 90%.
The U.K. Independence Party, a party that complains a lot about immigration, camped on the right.
And because the Liberal Democrats had formed a coalition with the Conservatives to form the last government, there was no reason they had to be on the field at all.
So David Cameron and the Conservatives had a lot of center to run free. I don’t know if Cameron did quite as well as Juan Lagares of the Mets does every night. But he did well enough to capture a majority of Parliament, shocking pollsters who thought he’d have to form a coalition with some fringe party.
5. The Scotland situation is also fascinating. The Scottish National Party, which favors independence, won 56 of the country’s 59 Parliament seats. That’s just months after the Scots rejected the idea of independence in a referendum.
Clearly, the Scots want something other than the status quo. They might not have been ready for independence last fall, but could be getting closer to that now. Or they believe there is something they can negotiate by forming a solid bloc, although the fact that Cameron can form a government without any outside help doesn’t give the SNP much leverage.
What happens with Scotland over the next months and years bears watching, and not just in Britain.
6. So what can Americans take away from yesterday’s vote in Britain?
I think there’s a precautionary tale for both parties. The Democrats, at this point, seem inclined to heed it. Despite the appeal of such outspoken liberals as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, they see Hillary Clinton as a winner who can hold the center ground. And you can’t govern if you don’t win.
The Republicans, on the other hand, seem determine to bring Americans to their form of Jesus. The leaders of the party see people like Jeb Bush and Chris Christie (before his latest New Jersey problems) as electable. But the rank-and-file love those Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee types who are determined to hew to a perfect social conservative line.
Cameron had the center to himself. If Hillary Clinton has that kind of a race, she’s the 45th President.