Op/Ed: Brexit Does Not Mean a Trump Presidency
Donald Trump cheered on Brits for Brexit, saying, “They took back their country. That’s a great thing.” In a description of Leave voters, he might as well have been describing his own supporters. “They’re angry over borders. They’re angry over people coming into the country and taking over, and nobody even knows who they are,” he said. “They’re angry about many, many things.” Not only do they have similar feelings, but they’re the same demographics as well: older, white, and less affluent.
You can’t look at Brexit without thinking about Donald Trump and his populist, nativist perspective. Brits voted for Brexit because they were driven by anti-immigration sentiments, xenophobia, and distrust of political institutions run by the elite. Support for people like Trump isn’t uniquely American – plenty of Brits are driven by the same impulses and frustrations. Anger is the top emotion brewing about in politics these days. Trump has just taken this to a whole new level with sexism, racism, and bigotry on top. He is the face of a movement. He’s just too much of a caricature.
Some Leave voters would say they’re not xenophobic at all, that business or economic interests come first, and the same goes for Trump supporters. Voters are also anti-immigration because they feel they are losing jobs to newcomers as well as social services and their safety in the face of ISIS attacks.
Although these concerns are understandable, it’s undeniable that for a lot of them, xenophobia and hostility are behind their support of leaving the EU. This is true of Trump supporters too, especially since Trump has called Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals and called for a Muslim ban. Trump’s negative view of immigrants holds up in the UK, too.
Brexit is scary because it’s shown that such sentiments can sway world politics and threaten improvements in globalization and acceptance of other cultures. It’s scary because it shows us that Trump isn’t the only one who can be xenophobic and hateful of people he doesn’t understand (equating Muslims with terrorists, for instance). Similar things are happening in Australia, too, where many Southeast Asian refugees are being held in offshore detention centers. These holding tanks have been accused of abuses like rape and child sexual abuse. In Greece, the neo-fascist Golden Dawn party is rising on the platform “Greece belongs to the Greeks.”
In a recent campaign ad, Clinton criticized Trump’s response to Brexit. “Every president is tested by world events, but Donald Trump thinks about how his golf resort can profit from them… In a volatile world, the last thing we need is a volatile president.”
The backlash against what is ultimately globalization is worrisome. Divided, we fall. But it’s also hopefully a passing trend. Ultimately, love will trump hate and acceptance will overrule fear and ignorance. Brexit passed, yes. But we are looking at the United States, not the UK. As the polls seem to show lately, Donald Trump has taken xenophobia to a whole new level, a level that is pushing away swing voters and the GOP alike.