The United States has something important to learn in the wake of Brexit; protest votes are not only petty, they’re extremely dangerous and stupid too. In this election year, we have been bombarded with multiple pieces on public frustration with establishment politics. As much as we are seeing an intelligent dialogue developing in this context however, we are also witnessing with a great many others, the collapse of a logical framework for debate. Too many people are now voting with knee jerk reactions; against rather than for something. The political game can’t be played like customer service though. Protest votes yield actual results.

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On June 23, the British people voted narrowly to leave the EU. Across social media and the web, the reaction was one of shock, even amongst many who voted in this favour. And then came “Bregret”- the pun on a word already being played with, as up to 7% Leave voters began to profess their vote was only cast in the belief that Britain would inevitably remain, or as some form of quasi-protest against some half-formed ideal they didn’t even understand. This became evident immediately in the wake of the votes, as top Google searches ranged from questions concerning what Britain’s role in the EU is to what indeed this “European Union” is. And we thought America was hogging all the stupidity this year…

The campaigns in Britain were of course controversial and already we are beginning to see how weak the structures on which Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson built their case were. Interestingly, national identity and immigration were key issues, especially amongst older voters who by large voted to leave the institution that had been irking them since 1973. The question has loomed for many years as to whether Great Britain is losing its Britishness. In America too, this question has come to the forefront with Trump’s campaign. Many of his voters, the so-called “silent majority,” white middle-class feel that they are not being catered for in the way they used to be. After all, look at how much hip hop music is on the radio these days. It’s threatening, quite frankly.

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Holding onto their Britishness no matter what…

 

Political correctness is another factor, in tandem with this, which boils the blood of many. Where actual issues arise with immigration, many liberals disavow the very notion of discussion on this area with labels of bigotry being thrown around at the clinking of a tea-cup. Trump, for all his bullishness and disregard, comes across as genuine and honest, in contrast to the political suits of past times. When he speaks about Mexicans, he’s speaking from the heart. Granted, that’s not a heart I’m sure exists, but he’s speaking from whatever’s there nonetheless. People appreciate this. They want a politician who speaks like your drunken grandfather on a night out. So when people complain about how they’re losing their political identity, it’s not a far stretch to attribute it to many of the left-leaning commentators who put a binding on the language book many years ago.

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Whilst I am clearly not a fan of political correctness, I do appreciate where people are coming from. There are problems with the EU and America. There are problems with immigration. National identity and culture should be appreciated. With all these cases however, common sense must then prevail however. For example, you may not have agreed with David Cameron on many domestic or foreign issues, but his Remain stance, was no just cause for joining the anti-establishment. You may feel America is being pushed around with immigration, but does this justify the extremist measures of a man whose policy is based on a Wikipedia entry? Establishment politics can prove frustrating but overhaul and revolutions are only required where all other means are exhausted. Trump may appear to many the underdog saviour who will restore American prestige at rallies, but sit down again and read the transcript of what he says, then think. If the Google searches come November concern the costs of a border wall, then standardised testing should be needed to secure the right to vote.

Andrew Carolan

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