Let’s get one thing straight; Trump and Brexit could not be further separate. Some people, primarily the smouldering remains of UKIP’s membership base, have got it in their heads that Trump is a continuation of a movement sparked by Brexit, and that Trump’s nationalism is exactly what Brexit was about. In fact, it would also seem that The Donald himself believes this twisted narrative; backed up by his advisor Nigel Farage, who he dubs ‘Mr. Brexit’.
Brexiteers who also support Trump know that by touting these two separate phenomena as the same, you are living up to what our nay-sayers accused us of. Bastions of the metropolitan elite such as the BBC and The Guardian touted us as fear-mongers, abusing the dissatisfaction of the lower classes and demonising immigrants to win the referendum. Whilst some people in the campaign were unsavoury at times; as someone who knocked on more doors and gave out more leaflets than he should have been during his A-Level exams, I can tell you that we were a campaign of hope.
Everyone I talked to wanted to leave the EU because they had higher hopes for our nation. They dreamed of a free Britain on the global-stage, and of the repatriation of powers to our people. It wasn’t nationalism in the traditional regressive sense, we wanted a new Britain, not and old one. In fact, the statistics show that the ability to control immigration in to Britain ranked only as the third most common reason people voted to Leave. People’s fears made up part of the vote, as they do in any election, but aspirations and dreams of a better future made up the bulk our campaign and our voters.
Trump’s campaign is the antithesis of our campaign. Whilst I do concede that there are some similarities between the voters in both phenomena, I refuse to recognise any real similarities beyond a few salient links. For example, many people are voting for Trump because they are sick and tired of a Washington Elite, closely related to the Brussels Elite, symbolised in the Clinton dynasty’s latest attempt at the White House. Lots of his voters also wish to control immigration to some greater extent than it is currently controlled. However, that is where the similarities end, with the key difference being that Trump’s campaign is far closer to ‘Project Fear’ than it is to Vote Leave.
I normally have a lot of time for Nigel Farage. I can only think of two times where I have particularly not had much time for him: during the referendum campaign, and now when he is advising Donald Trump. I think that we have a lot to thank Farage and his Kippers for, after all, their threat to steal Cameron’s votes won us the right to a referendum in the first place. However, Farage was also a great asset to the Remain campaign. His focus on immigration and his silly, ill-thought out posters risked to alienate the people we needed to win over.
I’m not sure if his support for Trump comes from a general dislike of free-ish-movement or from misplaced belief that Trump is anti-establishment. Whilst Trump himself is an outsider; his ideas are not. He is committed to rolling forward the frontiers of the state, not in reeling them back. Farage throwing his weight behind the megalomaniac sexist Donald Trump makes us Leavers look like everything the media accused us of being. He should know better.
The most disturbing thing about this year’s Presidential race is its confirmation that American political culture is now primarily dominated by fear. Whether that fear is Hillary winning votes by fatuously linking her opponent to the bogey-man that is Vladimir Putin or The Donald implying that most Mexican immigrants are rapists; fear is the American Politician’s chief weapon. No matter what ‘Hope Not Hate’ and the rest of the Remainiac Left claim, the Leave Campaign did not embody this characteristic. By saying that people are supporting Trump for the same reason that they supported Brexit you legitimise the ‘racist’ smears people like me faced on the streets, in the pubs, and on the TV during the referendum.
Trump is a snake oil salesman playing political football with the working-class voters of America. He is abusing their fear as an excuse to grow the state and to reduce freedoms. Brexit was all about recognising the hopes and dreams of the British electorate and freeing individuals in the UK from the overbearing rule of the statists in Brussels. Whilst Brexit embodied the spirit of the American Revolution, Trump spits on its legacy.
In the referendum, we harnessed hope as a weapon against a tyrannical and anti-democratic administration that ruled us from abroad and trod all over our constitution and legal customs. Trump’s candidacy has instead weaponised fear to abuse legitimate problems in America like mid-western unemployment and a decreasing rule of law. Trump symbolises everything wrong with American political culture whilst the success of Vote Leave embraced a progression to a better political culture in the UK.
Trump and Clinton are as bad as each other, and I still don’t know who I would vote for if I absolutely had to. The electorate in America is being abused with no clear end in sight, and the state is set to continue to grow and further erode the constitution and rights the American people hold so dear. Trump doesn’t deserve the mantle of being anything like Brexit. That mantle should be reserved for hope and glory, not for fear and loathing.
Nathan Friend is the Chairman of Conservatives for Liberty Wales
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty