The election victory of Donald Trump is yet another upset for the political status quo, not to mention yet another indicator of the absurdity of pre-election polling. The political commentators and the politicians themselves have now naturally compared the equally shocking decision of the British people to vote for Brexit with that of Trump’s victory.
The parallels are clear and the political media have for a long time been banging on about political elites and the ‘left behind’ disaffected voter for years now. The jubilation of this section of the electorate and the unbridled anger they displayed during both the run up to Brexit and to Trump’s victory has been some of the most disturbing behaviour in long established democracies ever seen.
We are likely to see very much more of this anger over the next few years as this now empowered section of our communities face the frustration of not getting quite what they voted for.
In the UK we saw the remarkable behaviour of the Brexiteers within literally hours of winning either walking away from the victory, or worse still turning on each other in venal attempts to make personal gain. This was the first demonstration that while it now seems easy to give the establishment a good kicking it is rather more difficult to put together an alternative.
Britain some five months after the Brexit vote is still no better informed about what post EU Britain will look like. The excuse for keeping our negotiating position secret is wearing thin especially after the high court ruling that Parliament must have a say in the process. America now also faces huge uncertainty about its future.
In the tortuous and enormously long election period Donald Trump made some staggering assertions about what he would do if he won the White House. Many of these caused horror to some but were music to the ears of is supporters. Many are now suggesting that he will much moderate these ‘promises’ now he has the job. That is a dilemma for the American people but more pointedly it is a dilemma for him.
President elect Trump was elected with a firm mandate. He now must fulfil it. He now has to build the wall, he now must deport the illegals and more to the point he must now ‘drain the swamp’. Even as arguably the most powerful politician in the world he cannot do this and he will fail.
That ‘swamp’ is Congress. The Washington elite is now his base, it was the Washington elite that gave him the electoral college victory. He needs the alligators and mosquitos in that swamp to function. He is no longer on the outside screaming corruption and foul, he is inside the ‘swamp’. He can no more drain this territory than he could drain the wetlands of Louisiana or Florida. It is here he will fail and those who voted for him will not be satisfied by any compromise, let alone failure.
The President of the United States cannot function without Congress however powerful and willful he might be. Donald Trump cannot build walls, negate trade treaties or change the law without Congress, the Washington elite will be staying and the ‘swamp’ will be un-drained. America’s angry ‘left behind’ and disaffected like Britain’s impatient Brexiteers will not forgive being lied to by those who promised them salvation.
— Barry Turner is Senior Lecturer in Media Law and Public Administration at the University of Lincoln.
Also read — Peter Smith: The post-truth is out there