A few days of ignoring the news, especially the political news, has done wonders for my attitude! I feel lighter, and much more relaxed. Of course, I’m not advocating an ostrich approach to the tenor of the times, but dropping back for a bit seems to have the added advantage of giving me a better perspective on the current scene.
And this year, perspective is everything.
My blogger friend Rosie, a British ex-pat of sorts – she and her husband are both retired from some executive-type jobs and live in Spain somewhere – brings such amazing perspective on the current American political sideshow, as well as having a right proper insight into the British insanity of the moment, Brexit. She’s been a bit too busy with life lately to do much blogging, but she shares her commentary with me from time to time, and I find it quite enlightening.
“In the UK, sadly, it’s those who are desperate to turn back the clock who will suffer most as Brexit unfolds,” she said to me soon after the exit vote. She blames the leaders for not bothering to really explain things to the English voters. “It’s difficult to explain that the world has moved on, especially when you have the likes of Trump and Boris Johnson trying to further their own personal positions regardless of the rest of us. Hillary and her supporters need to show understanding of and empathy with the disenchanted, whilst demonstrating that Trump could never deliver what they hope for. The intellectual superiority and patronising attitude lost the referendum for the Remain campaign in Britain. I only hope Hillary does better…”
Rosie (that’s not her name, but she said I could call her that, as she blogs under the name Ramblinrosemaryann!) sees lots of similarities between the Brexit vote and the support for Trump. “Both sides in the [Brexit] campaign lied and/or exaggerated, but that apart, it seems there is a significant section of UK society that feels ‘left behind.’ Generally older, male and blue collar, their traditional occupations (mining, steel, heavy industry) have all but disappeared,” she said.
“They feel they have lost their place in society and their communities have been left to decline. Even if they and their children get service sector work, they can’t feel pride in it. The gap between them and the progressive, pluralist multi-culture grows wider daily. It’s been happening over decades, but the EU referendum gave them a chance to exercise a protest vote. They genuinely believed the clock could be turned back to the 1970s.”
This seems to me to be just what is happening in the US – just the same motivation. People who feel indignant, left out, economically side-tracked and culturally abandoned have turned to Trump without much real analysis of what it would mean for them should he actually be elected. Of course, that seems a more and more remote possibility, but these people aren’t going away and their feelings are not going to change unless Hillary really jumps into a progressive agenda, which seems unlikely.
“It’s too easy to say, ‘tough, the world has moved on’ – manufacturing isn’t coming back from China anytime soon!” Rosie said. “Something has to be done for the genuine concerns of these people. Building walls across the English Channel and the Mexican border might sound attractive to some, but can never be the answer.”
Though the British have begun to revisit the vote and some suggest it should be re-voted, while others say the implementation still can be avoided, it seems to be going forward. Let’s hope we don’t get into that here. I do understand those who can’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary, but I’m still feeling the risk is too great to support a full-scale third party movement in this election.
But as many are beginning to suggest, including Bernie, we must begin to build a true progressive alliance on the ground in the US, and we must address the issues that are driving the fascist appeal. Otherwise we’ll be facing some other, probably slicker and more palatable, authoritarian candidate in the next election.
And then it will be too late to do anything about it.