Fintan O'Toole is on fire in analysing the nature of Boris and Trump's pitches for (respectively) Brexit and a ban on Muslim migration to the USA: they're meant as fantasies, deliberately unrealistic, to be voted for as an act of political daydreaming in a truthy age where no one holds politicians accountable for bald-faced lies.
This is, after all, the age in which Donald Trump, a fabulist who doesn't even bother to keep his lies consistent within the same speech, calls his opponent "Lyin' Hillary."
The UK Tories cut their teeth in debating contests at the Oxford Union, where contestants argue persuasively for whatever side they're assigned, and the only consequence for arguing passionately for something you don't believe in is victory and accolades from your peers. So Boris campaigns for Leave as a political gambit to seize control of the Tory party, then walks away from the mess when Gove, his erstwhile ally, stabs him in the back.
Trump, meanwhile, built his fortune (the part that he didn't simply inherit) by "Putting his name on products and services – and collecting fees," which "was often where his actual involvement began and ended."
Listening to Trump tell you that he is going to build a wall or to a Brexit leader telling you that there will be no more immigration is like buying a lottery ticket. You don't have to actually believe that you are going to win $100 million or £100 million this week. For even if the chance is one in a billion, it's a chance: it keeps the boredom at bay by introducing a fantastic possibility.
In this logic, the bigger and more outlandish the political claim (No more Muslims! Your industrial job is coming back!), the more reason there is to buy the ticket. You don't have to actually believe that Trump is telling the truth when he says he will build a wall. You just have to believe that there's a one in a million chance he might. The more desperate you are, the more brightly the prospect of a transformative moment glimmers on the distant horizon of your dreams.
Brexit and the politics of the fake orgasm [Fintan O'Toole/Irish Times]
(via Memex 1.1)