Stop wallowing in your post-Trump misery – this is what we need to do next

Trump and Farage have belched forth from a fetid swamp of problems born in the era of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, two politicians they venerate. They now propose to address those problems with a simplistic and cynical populism that will solve nothing

Click to follow
The Independent Online

To the 48 in the UK, the 50 in America, and all those of goodwill across the Western World:

I understand that things look pretty bleak right now. Hot on the heels of Britain’s decision to quit the EU on the back of a racist campaign fronted by group of toffs fed up that it’s their mates at the tiller and not them, America has gone and elected an avowed misogynist who has talked about grabbing women “by the p***y” and intimated that Mexicans are all criminals and rapists. 

And yes, I can see the problem with that sentence, but it didn’t stop people from voting for him.

Trump protester attacked at Ohio State University

Meanwhile in France, Marine Le Pen of the National Front, Madame Frexit as she calls herself, an altogether more credible and sinister figure than her father who founded the extreme right wing party, has a real shot at winning the presidency of the fifth republic and dismantling the idealism of its liberté, égalité, fraternité. 

Her peers elsewhere on the continent are awaiting their own chances. 

Perhaps it’s not surprising that my friends have been talking about hiding under their duvets and posting “stop the world I want to get off” on their social media accounts as the alt right stands triumphant.

That needs to stop. Right away. 

It was Edmund Burke, a poster-boy for the trad right, who said that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. That’s particularly apt at the current juncture. 

It pays to remember at this point that Britain’s referendum was very close. The US election was even closer. Donald Trump lost the popular vote, getting into the White House only by dint of winning the Electoral College. 

A few hundred thousand votes in a few mid-Western States, and we would be busily speculating about Hillary Clinton’s cabinet and not Trump’s. A few more millennials (the demographic overwhelmingly backed Clinton) turning out to vote would have seen his BFF Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart boss who managed his campaign, back in his box with only his paranoid conspiracy theories for company. 

A higher turnout among millennials would also likely have seen Remain celebrating a narrow victory. They backed it just as they backed Clinton. 

Unfortunately they accounted for a disproportionate number of the nearly half of the US electorate who stayed home last week. Ditto the 28 per cent of the UK electorate that did the same on referendum day. 

If we liberals are as horrified by what is happening as we claim to be on our social media feeds, this is no time to be hiding under a bushel. Or a duvet. Nor is it any time to be talking about “moving on” and accepting the nasty new reality. Quite the reverse.

We need to talk to people. We need to show them that there is a better way, and convince them to get out and vote for it when next they have the chance. 

One thing that really depressed my friends was that picture of UKIP’s grinning leader Nigel Farage and his sinister sugar daddy Arron Banks standing next to a smiling Donald Trump in a gold-plated lift. The pampered new elite, glorying in their triumph. 

Small wonder. It was a deeply depressing image, but it shouldn’t induce depression. It should induce anger. It should fire liberals up. 

These people, or the people they influence (Messrs Farage and Banks have never even managed to get themselves elected to a parliament whose sovereignty they claim to be so concerned about) will not improve life for anyone other than a few of their friends.

They have belched forth from a fetid swamp of problems born in the era of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, two politicians they venerate. They now propose to address those problems with a simplistic and cynical populism that will solve nothing. It will not be long before the cracks in their respective programmes start to show. 

They, and their allies, can and should be punished at the ballot box when the wonderland they have promised their followers fails to materialise. 

But that won’t happen if liberals give up. It is true that the liberal left is in a sorry state. Its leaders are weak and divided, with a few rare exceptions such as Bernie Sanders in the US. 

Too often they give the impression of staring wide-eyed into the abyss without any real idea of what to do about it.  

But that is also something that won’t change unless people take the necessary steps to change it. 

Withdrawing, stopping the world and getting off, it is the worst thing people can do in response to these challenges. It won’t help with anything. 

And remember. It could be a lot worse. We are not in Aleppo or Harare or Pyongyang. It’s time we stopped being so spoiled. The right is correct in one respect: we need to get over ourselves. 

While there are parallels to the 1930s with what is happening in the West, and they are frightening, we shouldn’t forget the lessons of that time. We have stand up now before we find ourselves in a really dark place. 

Democracy has delivered some bad results. The point about democracy, its key strength, is that bad results can be reversed and changed. It just takes people to argue and campaign and persuade so that sufficient people turn out to do that. Some of those who voted for the current mess might be persuaded to flip while we are at it. 

So forget about wallowing in gloom over past defeats. There is a lot of fight for. We need to start by holding the feet of our new masters to the fire. They need to be called out when they fail to deliver on their grandiose promises. 

Get out of bed, it’s time to fight the power.  

Comments