Voters reject John Lennon’s “world as one”
By MICHAEL BARONE (@MICHAELBARONE) • 10/2/16 12:01 AM
“The president believes the world will be a better place if all borders are eliminated — from a trade perspective, from the viewpoint of economic development and in welcoming people from other cultures and countries.”
The president in question is Bill Clinton, speaking soon after leaving office, on Sept. 10, 2001, in Melbourne, Australia. There’s apparently no transcript; the quotation is from the businessman who hosted the forum in an article in the next day's Melbourne newspaper, which appeared, thanks to time zone differences, about 12 hours before the airliners hit the Twin Towers.
The words are an interesting indicator of a general attitude, a prevailing sentiment taken largely for granted not just by Democrats and Americans like Clinton but also by elite leaders of many parties in the advanced democracies around the world.
Call it Lennonism, after John Lennon’s lyrics in “Imagine.” “Imagine there’s no countries,” Lennon wrote. “Nothing to kill or die for. … Imagine all the people living life in peace. … And the world will be as one.” It’s an appealing vision, but perhaps an odd one for someone born, as Lennon was, when and where the Battle of Britain was raging in the skies overhead.
Today, 15 years after Clinton’s talk in Melbourne, Lennonism remains the credo of many elite leaders but is in grave trouble with voters.