It’s been a few days since Donald Trump was elected the next president of the United States. There’s been so much written and spoken about this already that I really didn’t feel like I could or should contribute, however a video by Russell Brand really got me thinking through all of this, and I wanted to draw attention to that and perhaps expand a little on it. Now I know that Russell Brand isn’t exactly to everyone’s taste, but over the last five years or so, he has made an important contribution to public discourse, which I believe should be taken very seriously indeed.
In his video, Brand discusses an interesting article by Thomas Frank which blames Trump’s victory on liberals and liberalism because it is failing so many people. He says: “People no longer trust the people that say “hey we’ll look after you, it’s ok, stay in Europe, it’ll be alright, vote for Hillary Clinton, it’s gonna be better” because the people that you’re talking to are already living in a kind of post-apocalyptic world.” A salient point given the scale of poverty now in both the US and the UK.
Of course it would be wrong to assume that all people of any given social class voted the same way in either the US presidential election, or the EU referendum. Both have been incredibly divisive campaigns and I personally know good people of many different backgrounds, who have supported Trump, Clinton, a third party candidate, Brexit, and Remain. That said it cannot be denied that those of a working class background were statistically more likely to vote for Trump and Brexit, and whilst it seems almost superfluous to point out that the reasons for doing so are varied, I think that Russell Brand has hit the nail on the head. People are desperate, but they are trapped in a system that is indifferent to their plight.
I recently went to see Ken loach’s new film I, Daniel Blake. Again this is a topic about which much has been written, so I won’t dwell on it too long. What I would like to say about it though is that despite the protestations of people like Iain Duncan Smith who claims I, Daniel Blake is not representative of “life absolutely as it is lived by people”, it is in actual fact a brilliant portrayal of life for people who have fallen victim to the Conservative government’s evil regime of cuts. And let me be clear here for the record, whatever I may say about individual members of the Conservative Party, I don’t just believe that Tory ideology is wrong, I believe it’s evil. Why? Because whilst criticising the film for what he claims is an inaccurate portrayal of life for working class people, the astonishing hypocrisy of Duncan Smith is that he will happily claim £39 from the taxpayer for a single breakfast, whilst simultaneously presiding over £15billion of cuts to the benefits system which forces a million people to access food banks.
The point of all this is that if you want to begin to understand why so many people have felt forced to vote for things that are absurd, offensive, and frankly terrifying, watch I, Daniel Blake. Before you do however, watch another recent film, The Big Short. Both of these films can help us to understand why people are angry, scared, and desperately looking and hoping for something new, even if it may come at a price. And please try not to be angry, at least not at those people who voted for all this. I understand, believe me I do, but we must realise that fundamentally we all want the same thing: Change.