Xenophobia won it for BREXIT….the reality of Donald Trump terrifies me – Lauren Puckett – Independent UK

Xenophobia won it for BREXIT. As an American facing the reality of Donald Trump, that terrifies me

At least for now, Britain is my home. I care about this country, and it’s devastating to see it pummelled with such turmoil. This could have been avoided – and in the USA, it still can be

Brexit leave logoLauren Puckett  Independent UK

Well, the unthinkable happened. After a remarkably divisive campaign, Leave pulled out ahead of Remain during the June 23rd referendum, clinching a victory for BREXIT. Bye Bye, EU. Britain doesn’t want its mother hen anymore.  Shortly afterward, David Cameron resigned as PM, the pound plummeted, Scotland announced a second independence referendum, social media exploded and in general all hell broke loose.

What a time to be an American living in London.

I could try the easy route: detach from the drama. Just sit back and enjoy the show. Forget that the repercussions of BREXIT will send shockwaves across the entire world, rattling the economy and making the immigration debate an even dodgier tripwire than it is already. I’m an American. All I should be worried about is where I’ll be purchasing sandwiches for my 4th of July picnic, right?  

Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple.    …..

Widespread shock fell over Britain like a fog when the results were announced. Sentiments echoed throughout the office, the newsroom, the tube: “I really didn’t think this would happen”, “I just can’t believe it’s real”, “This is going to change everything”. Of course, this is supplemented with jokes (or real threats, who knows?) about moving to Canada, France, Scotland, Australia, and so on. But underlying all this chatter is a real sense that something has shattered in Britain. Something has broken.

Just look at the faces of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove as they “celebrated” the Leave campaign’s victory Friday morning. They looked solemn; chastised; a bit like children shuffling away from the “time out” zone. Sure, there are many happy people who backed the Leave campaign – but even they can’t deny the way Britain feels like it’s cracked in two.

I’ve been desperately digging for silver linings since the BREXIT announcement. As the eternal optimist in my family, that’s my role. But all I can come up with is this: America, you better be paying attention.

There’s a lot the USA can learn from this referendum. The States are facing their own political turmoil at the moment, as Clinton and Trump sprint for the presidential finish line, running on campaigns more different than night and day. And the electorate is facing many of the same questions Britain debated throughout the BREXIT process: How do we address immigration? How much control should the government (or any other entity) have over our finances? How can we protect ourselves from terrorism? How are workers’ rights guaranteed? Women’s rights? The rights of marginalised communities? How can we protect our economy, our currency? What do the experts say? How do we make Britain/America great again?

It feels almost conspiratorial that, on the morning of the BREXIT announcement, Donald Trump landed in Scotland. He was one of the only American leaders to back the BREXIT campaign (that should tell you something), and his arrival in the UK on Friday is too perfect. I’d laugh if it didn’t terrify me. Because for months, both Democrats and Republicans have been saying Trump’s campaign would never make it as far as it has. He could never get a following based on a message of isolationism, scare-mongering, extreme nationalism, xenophobia, racism – the works. Surely the American people – surely the Republicans, of which there are many rational and kind-hearted voters – would never let that happen.

Yet here we are.

trump

Trump vs Clinton

And still I hear: “There’s no way he’ll get the White House. Trump just isn’t presidential.” Both Trump and Clinton have the worst favourable ratings of any nominee in decades, and yet they somehow became our candidates. It isn’t a far cry from what happened here in Britain: every major expert, from the Governor of the Bank of England to Stephen Hawking, thought Remain was the best decision, but? No dice. We still got BREXIT.

So, America, I’m here to tell you. The unexpected can happen. Watch what’s occurring across the ocean, because if you aren’t careful, you might be looking into a crystal ball.

It’s now clearer than ever that Americans need to stand up against Trump if they have any hope of avoiding an aftershock like the one following BREXIT. That means more young people need to vote; a YouGov poll says the majority of young voters in Britain backed Remain, but not enough of them turned up to the ballot box. That means minorities need to keep on getting their voice out there. That means doing exactly what Bernie Sanders did on Friday: giving all we can to the best option we have (in Sanders’ case, endorsing Hillary Clinton).

And – perhaps this is the hardest part – it means getting people to listen. It means sitting down with people who disagree with you and talking this through with them. Show them the evidence. Show them why Trump is the wrong choice – morally, ethically, politically, economically. It’s amazing how that worked with some people in Britain; I read a report earlier of a young man who swayed his father’s vote over to Remain at the last minute. It can happen. But it takes communication.

At least for now, Britain is my home. I care about this country, and it’s devastating to see it pummelled with such turmoil. This could have been avoided – and, hopefully, it will be in the future. Britain will brave the storm.

But America still has an election ahead. If it wants to avoid a victory from BREXIT-like politics, it better keep its eyes wide open.

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Comments

  • Clyde Duncan  On June 28, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    The PROTEST VOTE [Tantrum] is for the Children with Undeveloped Brains.

  • Clyde Duncan  On June 28, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    Trump, BREXIT, ISIS and the Unmistakable Stench of the 1930s

    Though Karl Marx may have nailed it when he said that history comes first as tragedy and then as farce.

    Chemi Shalev – HAARETZ

    Benjamin Netanyahu is a compulsive comparer. Throughout his decades in public office, Netanyahu has been roundly ridiculed and comprehensively criticized for his obsession with Nazi-era parallels. For the prime minister, an enemy of Israel always winds up as Adolf Hitler’s successor, the country’s critics are forever Neville Chamberlain’s heirs and any meeting between the two is another latter-day Munich. This isn’t 1938, his detractors will sneer.

    But perhaps Netanyahu deserves an apology, partial at least. His personal analogies may have been misplaced and his interpretation of events self-serving, but Netanyahu is definitely on to something. His pessimistic perception of the world we live in may have been more accurate than the condescending dismissal of his detractors, including this one. The world today increasingly seems no less 1930s than 21st century. That’s why it’s creating such a deep sense of foreboding.

    Take the dread that quickly replaced the shock that most people in the West felt in reaction to Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. The results undoubtedly came as a big surprise, but that can be ascribed to the complacency and detachment of British elites, opinion-makers and opinion-analyzers, a topic that has been thoroughly dissected in the short days that have passed since the shock outcome was announced. What is harder to shake, however, is a sinking sense that BREXIT isn’t just an isolated phenomenon but one in a series of unfortunate events that should prick our thumbs, as the second witch says to Macbeth’s approach, to warn us that “something wicked this way comes.”

    Imagine the fear that may have gripped astute Americans or Europeans on any given day in the early 1930s, when nativism, xenophobia and racism were spreading like wildfire, when fascism became fashionable, when a loud-mouthed and uncouth demagogue became the toast of cultured Berlin and an egomaniacal despot was culling the best and the brightest in Moscow. They may not have had Facebook, Twitter or 24/7 news coverage, but anyone with eyes in his head could have surmised that this was not going to end well. Which is what went through many minds on Sunday night, as the results of the British referendum came in.

    Think of 1932, as one example. The stock market is down, unemployment skyrockets, famine breaks out in the Soviet Union, Adolf Hitler is asked to form a government and Benito Mussolini promises to stay on as dictator for 30 years. Each event might have triggered anxiety in and of itself, but taken together they were like large blips on a radar screen that warned of “The Gathering Storm” as Churchill called it.

    In 1932, the baby of hero pilot Charles Lindbergh was kidnapped and murdered. Fleeing the immense publicity that the tragedy elicited, Lindbergh went to live in England, visiting Germany frequently and becoming best mates with Luftwaffe chief Herman Goring. He came back to America in 1939 as a Nazi sympathizer and outspoken anti-Semite to headline the isolationist America First Committee. This is the slogan that Donald Trump clings to almost 80 years later, despite the negative connotations that it raises in so many quarters.

    Recent events provide other mirrors, often unflattering to ourselves, that show us how people felt back then. When Syria collapsed unto itself in 2011 and the regime started massacring its own people and the casualties went from thousands to tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands, it was a 1930s-style atrocity, somewhere on the scale between Japanese atrocities in Manchuria, Communist starvation in the Ukraine and persecutions of the Jews in Germany, before annihilation began. The only difference is that this time, Western public opinion was well aware of what was going on. They may have been horrified, but they certainly didn’t do much about it. Which sounds very familiar.

    Two years ago, in another anniversary that occurs this week, Islamic State was declared and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was anointed as its caliph. The hitherto unknown terrorist group burst onto the world stage, filmed and broadcast its unprecedented barbarisms and turned unspeakable evil and depravity into morbid hits that drew millions to YouTube. They conducted a savage human hunt of the Yazidis, a people deemed so inferior as to merit a fate that ranged from enslavement to extinction. The Yazidis to Islamic State were like the Jews, the Romani and the untermenschen [racially inferior] Slavs for the Nazis. It’s terrible, the world said – but mostly looked on.

    At about the same time, the Syrian refugee crisis was spilling over into Europe and the issue made its way across the Atlantic. Here were hundreds of thousands of desperate people facing either death or servitude for forced conversion, begging for relief, knocking on the gates. Some people lobbied to let them in, many more advocated keeping them out. Most reasonable people thought both sides made valid points.

    The fact that there is no direct comparison to Europe in the 1930s and 1940s doesn’t mean that the echoes don’t come through loud and clear. Populist politicians exploited the opportunity, stoked fear and warned voters of the dire fate that awaits the nation if dark strangers are allowed to bring their strange customs and sinister ways. When Jews were fleeing Nazis in the 1930s and 40s and knocking on America’s door, there were millions of people in Europe and the U.S.A. who genuinely believed that allowing them in by the thousands would be truly dangerous. They are alien, they are crooked, they bring diseases, they would be sleeper agents for a Bolshevik conspiracy and they would undermine our proud Anglo-Saxon heritage.

    Decades of righteous preaching about the complacency of Europe and the fickle cold heart of an America that locked its gates to Jews suddenly seem far less clear-cut and far more hypocritical. The significant number of Jews who opposed asylum for Muslims made arguments that sounded awfully similar to the protests of the gentiles who denied sanctuary for their own grandparents who tried to flee anti-Semitic Europe in the 1930s.

    And look at what has happened to those politicians and those countries that, contrary to the 1930s, opened their arms and their borders to the tormented refugees. Angela Merkel, hitherto Germany’s wildly popular chancellor, is wilting. David Cameron, who failed to fathom the resentment fostered by immigration, is resigning. Moderate governments throughout Europe are endangered. And Britain is exiting right.

    Which brings us to Donald Trump, this year’s grandmaster of making people mutter, “this can’t be happening” to themselves. Contrary to the initial analytic bursts, Trump may actually be suffering because of BREXIT. The less desirable the break seems to the British people themselves, the more it seems to plunge Europe and the world into a deep economic hole, the more it reflects negatively on Trump and his messaging. He may already be regretting his hasty identification with the British vote, but, after John, hasty is Trump’s middle name.

    Nonetheless it’s too early to write Trump off just yet. The same forces that brought him this far, the same forces that brought down the British establishment, the same forces that are tugging at the post-World War II unity of Europe, could still overrun America as well.

    If there is any consolation in the historical precedent, it lies with Karl Marx’s addendum to Friedrich Hegel’s observation that “all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice.” He forgot to add, Marx notes, “the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” – Sometimes when you listen to Donald Trump, you gotta hand it to Marx for nailing it.

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