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Craig Feigin | Is Donald Trump “Brexit” for America?
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01 Oct Is Donald Trump “Brexit” for America?

Wayne Allyn Root at Fox News thinks he might be:

He argues that there is an elite political class which is panicking about the possibility of President Trump because he will end their corruption, stop them “feeding at the public trough” and bring about a new era of justice for the common man as fraud, greed and bribery get exposed.

Hillary Clinton, he believes, should wear a NASCAR-type sponsor jacket as she is bought and paid for, while Trump’s financial independence will enable him to lead America towards independence from every troubling influence.

So what is the parallel with Brexit, Britain’s forthcoming exit from the European Union? Root points out the similar opposition to it from the UK’s establishment, similar levels of experts warning against Brexit, and a similar, large undercurrent of popular support for it nevertheless.

Something Root has not stated clearly but implies under the catch-all term of “politically incorrect” are the reasons Brexit and Trump have been whispered about rather more than shouted about. One of those is that both Brexit and Trump have been strongly associated with xenophobia and racism. Not every supporter of Brexit was racist, but all the racists definitely supported Brexit.

The promise to people that they could take back control of their country was attractive, especially in difficult economic times, but it was underpinned by the suggestion that the country belonged to certain people and not others. For some, this was about UK birth right. For others, it was more about what they could see, such as the colour of someone’s skin or the language they spoke.

Europe, for many, had been a troubling influence as they insisted that Britain should be open to newcomers, in exchange for Britain’s access to a single free market of goods and talent. Challenges to the European Union were not so much that it was an inconvenience as a corrupt institution, and not a beneficial partner but a malignant preventer of independence.

In this way, Brexit represented the promise of freedom and the restoration of greatness. Many supported it quietly for fear of being seen as racist or simplistic. Political polls constantly underestimated support for Brexit, and ultimately Brexit surprised – even shocked – many by winning.

So this is a prospect for America, to follow Trump towards a promise of freedom from corruption, greater independence and control. It’s enticing and easy to see why it’s popular.

But there is a huge question overhanging which is starting to affect Britain now, and could challenge America next. What happens after the vote? In Britain, it emerged that no-one really agreed on a plan for what to do after Brexit, or even how to negotiate it properly. It took mere hours for the clearest promises made by the Brexit campaigners, to spend a specific amount of extra money on healthcare, to unravel and be retracted after victory. The new Prime Minister promised that “Brexit means Brexit” (which is masterfully specific and vague at the same time), but for many, Brexit was quickly followed by Regrexit. The prominent campaigners on both sides have mostly exited politics altogether. Future investment in Britain is looking doubtful for many companies that need access to a market they can no longer be guaranteed to get. It turns out that it’s one thing to win a vote with promises, and something else altogether to deliver on them.

People in America who dearly want the things Trump is promising, and are maybe encouraged that they can win, just as Brexit won, should also pause to wonder if Trump can really deliver. What will he actually do? Will life be better with him because it can’t get any worse than the Democrats? Or could he actually be bringing in a new era of instability, fuzzy vision, poor relationships and broken promises?

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