Were democratic decisions such as voting in Donald Trump as US President and the UK’s exit from the EU indirectly caused by the people who campaigned against them?
On the 24 June 2016, I woke up, exchanged conversation briefly with someone (either my mother or my brother), and stood in shocked silence for about 30 seconds before deciding to live in quite a different way. Something similar happened on the 9 November the same year. I had very little to fear from the results of both votes: I’m a legal UK citizen, and I have no intent on stepping in any of the United States any time soon – not that I have much against them. The only thing I really have to fear is all-out nuclear war, but by the time I notice that, I’ll probably be dead.
After much review of my (understandable) behaviour on those two dates, I realised that I wasn’t upset over my personal safety, but some part of my subconscious had noticed that the political system of right-versus-left had pretty much been destroyed before my eyes. Brexit, which was originally viewed as an unthinkable, right wing political act, was now the fate that the UK would have to accustom to, weakening the pound and plummeting stock markets within a matter of hours. The finger was pointed at right-wing politicians, business owners, and members of the alt-right groups, Ukip and the BNP. However, after several surveys, including one by YouGov, it was noticed that in fact, 35 per cent of people who voted for Labour – the party typically associated with socialism and the left wing – in 2015, also voted to leave the EU the following year. So unless 3,271,556 voters suddenly completely altered their position on the political spectrum and joined the alt-right, which feels unlikely, Brexit was more than just a left versus right debate.
The decision to leave the EU was voted for by people from all walks of life, much like it would be impossible to pinpoint remain voters into one single social group, making it useless for angry, disgruntled liberals (of which I am admittedly often one) to attempt to shift all the blame on the so-called “uneducated masses” – a term that was also used by liberals to declare all Trump voters as idiots who cannot think properly for themselves. Unfortunately, David Goodhart points out that what we liberals don’t realise is Brexit and Trump were our fault.
And, annoyingly, he’s right.
Think about it. Politics had adopted a blanket of “double liberalism”, where anything that wasn’t unbelievably inclusive was immediately dismissed as “racist”, where political correctness became a censor that barred any form of debate over issues such as immigration, and where workers didn’t get a say in a “liberal” market that allowed literally anyone, with enough money, to buy and sell businesses, and thus jobs. Liberalism had created a bubble for itself, where governments had acted “in the people’s interest” by assuming what the people actually wanted: when in fact their views were misrepresented.
It’s a tragic story, but a true one: Brexit and Trump were inevitable, full stop. The censor of “political correctness” has labelled genuine concerns from people worried about their jobs and their families as racist. “We’re for freedom of speech,” is now an extremely ironic statement, because it is one that has stopped people from entering the global debate. Liberalism could easily be compared to an almost fascist concept now, as both refuse to admit that any other system of arguments could have even remotely good points, or be even vaguely valid.
As a self-proclaimed Marxist, I find this sickening: a system of beliefs that was designed to allow everyone a view now only allows people with a belief system that conforms to a very specific set of ideals. Suppression of one’s political voice leads to extreme views, and liberalism is the main culprit of this. If only we could actually listen to each other once every so often, uncensored, maybe the world would be a better place.