Similarities Between Some Brexit Voters and Donald Trump's Core Supporters
The world was surprised to see Britain vote to exit the European Union (EU), a term that we have come to know as Brexit (Britain and Exit). The 'Leave Campaign' argued for Britain's right to leave the European Union while the 'Remain Campaign' naturally wanted Britain to remain a part of the European Union. There are so many elements to Brexit, so I'm going to try and simplify the argument. Please don't throw tomatoes but here's the gist of it all.
The EU was developed to form a single internal market. In other words, free movement of people, goods, and services for the benefit of capital gains. Mostly, the EU was created as an economic block under the premise that conflict between these states would be deterred. Moreover, it was intended as a peace mechanism post-WWII between the founding member states of France and Germany. Over time, the EU opened membership to other European countries and evolved in a manner in which some believe ( Leave Campaign) that it had overstepped its boundaries and therefore infringed on the sovereignty and rights of the individual member states (mainly Britain). Others may not have agreed entirely with the current state or the direction of the EU but they understood that the overall benefits outweighed the problems and therefore wanted to remain in the EU (Remain Campaign). Additionally, some believed Britain should have stayed in the EU and worked on trying to amend the system instead of bowing out. However, there was little indication on whether the EU would reform, so it was presented in a way that, either the UK remain in the EU and accept the terms or leave. Thus the referendum happened, and by a very narrow margin, Britain chose to leave.
Many try to compare Brexit to the 2016 American Presidential election by predicting Donald Trump could become president. Thankfully, the polls are suggesting otherwise and hopefully they remain that way until SHE is elected Madame President. Although, having British politician and vocal leader of the Leave Campaign Nigel Farage, retire from politics in the UK to join Donald Trump on the campaign trail in America doesn't look good.
While I do not believe there will be an upset or surprise in the outcome of the U.S Presidential election this year, I do, however, find a striking resemblance between some of Brexit voters and Trump's core supporters. When I refer to Trump's core supporters, I'm not talking about the Republicans who don't actually like or support Trump fundamentally or personally but only stand by him for their own political ambitions and or because of party loyalty. Trump's core supporters are those who truly believe Washington is broken and only, "He alone can fix it." In other words, Trump's core supporters are only a fraction of his supporters.
As an American living in London without voting rights; I saw the Brexit argument from both ends of the spectrum. My main concern on the matter was that many broken systems within the UK require a larger budget; mainly the National Health Service (NHS) and I don't think raising the already high taxes in the country is the answer. However, post-Brexit, we have learned that the budget that was once used for the EU membership will not necessarily be allocated to the NHS and other areas as was originally sold to the public by the 'Leave Campaign.' Additionally, I respect state sovereignty and yes I agree the EU needs to be reformed, but it is a tough decision to be left with the public alone on the matter of Brexit. I mean, isn't this why we elect intelligent, policy-makers who have the knowledge and expertise on these matters? Aren't we suppose to trust politicians to make the best decisions for the overall good of the country? Personally, I don't think a binding referendum on Brexit was a good idea. Maybe I'm blinded by the form of democracy that I grew up with in the States and have been brainwashed by processes such as the Electoral College and the role of superdelegates in the Democratic Party . Perhaps Brexit is democracy in its purest form and maybe I haven't been privy to such a system before.
Another aspect of the Brexit argument that I hadn't consider was the element of racism, xenophobia, and classicism. I had many conversations with my London friends (FYI, London voted to remain)--who have helped me understand the history of racism and classicism in the UK and the implications of Brexit. The aftermath of Brexit has proven my friends' concerns to be right.
Allow me to explain the similarities between some Brexit voters and Donald's Trump's core supporters.
Generally speaking, Trump's core supporters are industrial workers and or entrepreneurs, non-college-educated people in rural communities. These supporters believe Washington have let them down by establishing multinational trade agreements that have direct effects on their livelihoods. For example, the U.S industrial production falling and mining activity weakening is a result of spending cuts in the energy sector in line with environmental progressions and trade agreements that increase job outsourcing. All of which may serve as an overall good for a globalized economy but for the fourth-generation miner in Ohio who is no longer making ends meet, this is detrimental.
Similarly, in the UK, EU regulations and the freedom of movement of people into the UK provides opportunities for the financial, legal, and tech industries largely based in London but for people living in the Northern, Eastern, and Midlands of England, where many are also farmers, entrepreneurs, industrial workers; and where job opportunity has fallen, they might not agree with the EU. One example is in the East of England, where there was a large number of Brexit voters, 33 percent youth unemployment, and people in that region believe uncontrolled European immigration has caused the decline popular tourist areas which historically have brought economic growth. Additionally, folks are feeling left out of the benefits system as UK nationals because such resources have been spread across to accommodate other EU members migrating to the UK as required by EU regulations.
I understand both groups grievances-- trust me I do. The threat of not having economic security scares us all. History has shown us that in these times, the majority tends to place blame on marginalized communities. Hatred behavior towards immigrant, migrant workers, or any foreign culture is a convenient and easy mask from the real issues. Since Brexit, there has been a reported rise in hate crimes against others. Similarly, in addition to the police killings of Black people in the U.S, there has been so many hate crimes inspired by Donald Trump's rhetoric .
Let's be clear, not everyone who voted for Brexit and not all of Trump's core supporters are racists but perhaps we can agree that there is a level of xenophobia within voting patterns. The very ideals of Brexit and a Trump's presidency with slogans like, "Take Back Control"-- for Brexit and "Make America Great Again" for Trump; insight hate and divide within and among countries. It is important for us to recognize what these movements represent-- Brexit and a Trump Presidency alike so that we can develop ways to address the impact on our societies.