2016: the year of shock, division and change

2016 has provided us with a whirlwind of a year in terms of politics. To kick it all off in February, David Cameron announced that there would be a referendum on Britain’s EU membership. Then in June, Brexit actually happened (- I smiled as I wrote that line). David Cameron then offered his shock resignation, with Theresa May simply walking into 10 Downing Street thanks to her opponents mistakes.  Also in June, 49 people were gunned down in an Orlando nightclub; this hate crime was a prime example of how divided the USA was, and still is today. Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was the subject of an attempted coup from his own military in July; even more shockingly, the military botched the attempted coup badly, allowing Erdogan to strengthen his dictatorship-like hold on the country. Then there was the whole US election saga; Trump offended people left, right and centre, with the tip of the iceberg being an uncovered tape from 2005 which shows him saying that he would “grab ’em [women] by the p*ssy.” Hillary Clinton played her part in the ugly election too; she was caught saying that you should have a “public and personal” view on certain issues. Also, the FBI opened, closed, reopened then closed their investigation into Clinton’s private email server use. Then, on Tuesday 8th November, the American citizens spoke; Donald Trump would become the 45th president of the United States of America. After the result, many students across America took to the streets in protest of Trump’s victory, with many shouting for Bernie Sanders, the socialist who lost the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton.

If you look closely in America, you can still find people with their jaws firmly stuck to the floor in shock at the result of the election. The whole election had a Brexit feel to it, and the polls followed a similar trend. Firstly, Clinton had a solid lead, with the Trump campaign being laughed off as some practical joke. The same happened in Britain, with the Leave campaign dismissed as racist and full of scaremongering. Then the polls started to tighten until both Trump and the Leave campaign sneaked ahead. The first prospect of the outsider winning the election frightened a lot of people, as Remain and Clinton then edged back ahead until election day. Everyone presumed that it would be a tight race, but nearly everyone believed that the favourite would win. But they didn’t. The polls were wrong, the media were wrong, and the respective establishments couldn’t quite believe what they were seeing. Leave had edged it, along with Trump. The media asked what was the secret to the underdog overcoming the odds?  How did they do it?

If you read between the lines, it shouldn’t be a shock to anyone that Leave and Trump were victorious. During the EU referendum, the Leave campaign was shouted down by liberals and left wingers as racist and hateful; one of the slogans that was used at the end of the campaign by Remain voters was “love not hate.” This demoralisation and categorisation of all Leave voters as hateful, stupid  people led to Leave voters being afraid to tell people their opinion in polls. This led to inaccurate results, which ultimately led to shock and horror for remain campaigners on 24th June. The left’s refusal to accept other opinions and views led to campaigns for a second referendum, it led to protests in the streets and hundreds of people turned out outside Boris Johnson’s home to let him know that they did not accept a democratic vote. There was no system in place, such as the first past the post system, to possibly cause controversy  in terms of one side winning the popular vote but not winning the referendum. Just for the record, I detest the first past the post system we use in elections- I believe that we should use Proportional Representation, which is a much fairer system. The system we used in the referendum was the popular vote system, where the most votes win. The left could not accept the democratic decision of the British people as they could not comprehend that where democracy is concerned, there is more than one opinion.

The same style of vote happened in the 2015 General Election, when the Conservatives surprisingly won with a majority. Shy Tory voters tipped the scales against Labour; the reason why they were “shy” is because Labour was seen as the trendy vote and the only acceptable vote in the eyes of left wingers and Liberals. The Conservatives were categorised as evil, mean and hateful; people felt that they couldn’t voice their opinions in polls and to their friends due to the fear that they would be seen as heartless and nasty.

Similarities can be drawn with Britain’s previous two major votes when looking at the US election. However,  the categorisation and labelling of right wingers was more extreme. Clinton was supposed to win, that was the script said. She was seen as the more acceptable vote, the person that normal people were supposed to vote for.  The Trump campaign was intentionally extreme; he directed his messages to the core Republicans and his core supporters in order to get a high turnout on voting day. Granted, he said some horrible things, but he was laughed off as a joke. Time after time members of the establishment and the media would dismiss him. They were overlooking key facts though; Trump had won the Republican nomination, he was generating large crowds at his rallies and he was motivating his core supporters. Shy Trump voters would feel that they were going to be attacked, embarrassed and shouted down for saying that they were voting for him. They would not express their opinion over the fear they would be seen as inhumane people for carrying a different view. Shy Trump voters felt like they had no choice but to wait until they got into the voting booths to say what they truly felt. There are a minority of Trump voters that are sexist and racist, but by lumping all Trump voters together the left created anger and helped divide the US, leaving the Republicans with a president, control of Congress and control of the House of Representatives.

 

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Donald Trump preaching to the choir

 

Many liberals and left wingers refused to accept the result of this election. Their belief that there is only one correct view in a democracy led to them ignoring and silencing the opposition; silencing the majority of Trump voters is a mistake by liberals, as you cannot hear their concerns and worries, and you cannot debate them and reach a solution without knowing the problem. The result shocked liberals and left wingers because they refused to hear Trump supporter’s opinions, even though both votes carried the same weight.  By ignoring and trying to supress Tump voters, the left are unintentionally signalling that they want a country where only one way of thinking is acceptable; in more simple terms, they want a dictatorship.

America was edging further apart before Trump started his election campaign, but with his brass and obnoxious comments, he has helped accelerate that divide. He may have over exaggerated on some of his promises to get a high turnout amongst his core supporters, but the messages he has delivered have been cemented into his supporter’s minds. Some of Trump’s messages will cause more controversy than unity, which he promised to achieve in his victory speech.

Unity is hard to achieve in the changing world of politics. 2016 has certainly helped with division, not unity. There is almost a new measure when defining which side of the of the political spectrum you are on- it is those who want open borders and those who want closed borders. Immigration is one of the hot topics of 2016, as the refugee crisis and Trump’s promise to build a wall on America’s southern border brought it to the table as an urgent issue. With more and more measurements for us to judge ourselves by, we are furthering the distance between ourselves and people who put themselves on the other side of the political spectrum. With this ever growing divide between society’s multiple viewpoints, we must learn to understand the different viewpoints at a greater depth and not silence out our opponents because we cannot be bothered to analyse and interpret our counterparts reasoning behind their stance. We mustn’t leave behind those that the left drown out because they brand them as racists, sexists and homophobes; we must try to understand their opinions and teach them about social progression. If we leave certain demographics such as older, white, uneducated men behind, they will feel betrayed by society and the Government. They will feel let down and disowned by the people in power- the people who are elected to represent everyone.

 

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Trump united with his family and vice president elect, Mike Pence, on election night

 

It is hard to achieve unity in an era where so many different assessments define us. But for unity to be achieved, a healthy democracy must be in place. A healthy democracy is only achieved when everyone feels like their voice has been heard and represented. A democracy is not healthy when certain members of society are drowned out and insulted. In 2016 we have had refusals to accept results of referendums and elections from some members of society. That is not the way to go about things; for a democracy to work it is vital that society must accept the result. If people do not like the result, they should debate others and put forward an argument as to why they believe that their view is the correct one. Peaceful protests are a good way to show your unhappiness with the result as it shows you care; however, people should not be marching the streets chanting “he’s not my president” There is a difference between refusing to accept the result and being unhappy with it; some left wingers and liberals should learn the difference.

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The effect of 2016 politics

 

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