If Brexit taught us anything, it’s to never assume the worst will not happen.
I believe Donald Trump will be president next year.
A rolling poll from key swing state Ohio has placed him ahead of his democratic rival Hillary Clinton for almost a week now; and broader polls show the candidates are neck and neck with less than 50 days to go until the November presidential election.
Of course polls can be wrong. And it’s easy to see why people assume Trump is too outlandish, too ridiculous, and unreal to be elected. One of his platform policies is to build a wall around America, paid for by the people he wants to shut out. His son recently compared the global refugee crisis with a bowl of skittles. He eats KFC with a knife and fork – surely there’s at least one state where that’s illegal. With every week that passes, he drops another clanging gaffe that reverberates, painfully, across international media: and the world says this could never happen.
People held a similar opinion in the weeks leading up to Brexit. Britain and Europe watched, bemused, as the two arms of a campaign conducted a mini-armada on the Thames; as Boris Johnson announced that Europe stopped the UK buying more than three bananas at a time; Nigel Farage touted a poster of the ‘migrant crisis’ that would have looked more at home in 1930s Germany; and the ‘Remain’ campaign was briefly overrun with cats. Foreboding darkened the edges, but for the most part people were too busy laughing to consider the real-world repercussions of leaving.
On the day Jo Cox – the MP for Batley & Spenn and the first victim of a political assassination in 26 years – was shot by a man shouting ‘Britain first,’ a week before the vote, everyone said it was over. The cats, the bananas and the water fight had been entertaining, but now a woman had been murdered in a politically motivated attack, and it seemed inconceivable that people would in any way risk endorsing this by following through on the vote. The pantomime politics that had been horsing across print and social media for weeks was suddenly silent, and very still.
When the country voted a week later; the result plunged us into a reality that no-one had prepared for. Cameron resigned within hours, and Vote Leave, wan-faced and slightly pale, spoke of their victory in muted tones.
Once someone had divulged to Trump what the word ‘Brexit’ actually meant, he announced the world would soon call him ‘Mr Brexit.’ Nigel Farage (who, incidentally, resigned from the world of politics within weeks of the result saying he ‘wanted his life back’) spoke at a rally in Mississippi the following day, promising a Trump presidency would deliver a second ‘American Independence’, and urging voters to take back control. He has since predicted a Trump win.
The good news is that Hillary Clinton is bouncing back from her bout of pneumonia; and the first presidential debate will be broadcast live tonight – which should provide ample opportunity to expose the utter lack of the bare bones of political experience or hair that Trump can plausibly call his own. But he is far closer to this presidency than I would ever have believed – and as November draws closer, it’s time for the American electorate to stop laughing, and consider the reality they could soon bring upon themselves.
We would like to thank Emily Burt for her latest contribution to The Euroculturer.
Read the first of her series “Notes from a lonely island” covering post-referendum Britain.
The Euroculturer Recommends:
“Immigrants, Visas and Silver Bullets: How will UK migration work post-Brexit” Eoghan Hughes examines the promises, pledges and pitfalls surrounding the UK’s immigration policy in a post-Brexit reality.
“Who Polices the Internet? Content Removal v. Freedom of Speech” Julia Mason guides us through the trenches of the internet’s most contested battleground and asks is ‘Hate speech’ the same as ‘Freedom of Speech’.
“The EU’s Game of Thrones: Who Will Be The Next President of the European Parliament?” Bastian Bayer introduces us to the contestants in this game and gives us insight into the rise of Martin Schulz.