Part II: How the UK perceives the US in the Trump era
Many Britains share the view that America’s short-sightedness on issues cannot and will not last forever
Demonstrators holding placards march in central London during a protest against US President Donald Trump on February 4, 2017. Photo source NIKLAS HALLE’N/AFP/Getty Images embed
How did Hillary lose? Brits horrified by Trump moves that build fear and demonstrate isolationist tone
Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two-part series based on interviews conducted with business, political and education leaders by Atty. Joe Richardson during a recent excursion to Europe.
Notwithstanding the forces that sought “change,” which may be better described as a return of sorts, Trump’s victory was still unexpected, as was the Brexit victory. The similarities between Trump and Brexit, including openly wondering about the emergence of each, are not lost on Julia Wassell, a British professor of Social Work who has long been politically active, serving on the Buckinghamshire County Council, in her town of residence, and having been a candidate for parliament as part of the Labor Party.
She followed the U.S. election closely and due to her connection to feminism going back to the 1970s, she was a Hillary Clinton supporter and would have been glad to come to America and work on her campaign. She certainly was surprised to see Trump win the election, agreeing with the sentiment of even most Americans that the election was Clinton’s to lose.
Being politically aligned with progressive causes for much of her life, Wassell confirmed a tremendous sense of loss with Hillary’s defeat and felt U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders was partly responsible. The dynamics of the 2016 election continue to be hotly debated. A recent article estimates that the number of Sanders voters that voted for Trump in the general election (some 12 percent) made the difference in key states would have put Hillary over the hump in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and given her the electoral college win.
“Bernie obstructed Hillary and helped Trump,” Wassell said.
Wassell confirms that Brits have watched in horror as President Trump made moves upon coming into office that builds on fear and demonstrates an increasingly isolationist tone that, at its worst, undercuts America’s role as a leader in world leadership. Those moves continue: the travel ban (though the limited version is in the courts,) weighing in on terrorist attacks in London with confrontation and insensitivity, and threatening to withhold funds from countries that rebuked the U.S. for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Short-sightedness on issues will be short lived
Professor Jason Schwab offered a unique perspective. Born and raised in America, his graduate education took him to England. He taught and receive a doctorate from Bucks New University in Birmingham and now is a senior lecturer at the University of Birmingham. Having lived and studied in both London other parts of the country, he is familiar with all of the perspectives that come into play.
Schwab pointed out that, as result of the market crash in 2008, people’s trust in institutions has been shattered.
“People are frustrated by their lack of increase in their standard of living; for the first time since the industrial revolution, (the fear is) kids may not better than their parents,” he said.
Schwab confirmed many of the pressures that we see here are seen there as well, i.e., change from many areas from homogeneous to very diverse. It is this change, the related fear, that had some voting for Brexi — perhaps similar to what America did with Donald Trump. Even then, Schwab reiterates the shock that Donald Trump’s election sent throughout Britain. The British are used to political parties alternating in power, but much of the world thought electing Trump after Obama was astounding.
Notwithstanding the shocking developments, Schwab predicts that two issues — terrorism and climate change, will dominate the agenda and people will no longer be able to ignore them. He believes that, notwithstanding Brexit, many in Britain share the view that America’s short-sightedness on climate change cannot and will not last forever.