In the wake of the UK’s referendum on EU membership, one would be forgiven, reading Facebook and Twitter, for thinking that the sky had fallen in. The outpouring of grief was spectacular, and what was most disconcerting was the way Leave voters were labelled by those who had not gotten the desired outcome.
Stupid, ignorant, racist, backwards, bigoted… all characteristics assumed by Remain supporters to be possessed by those who disagreed with them. Whilst no-one is suggesting there wasn’t a minority element who did indeed vote to Leave the EU for those reasons, the overwhelming majority voted to leave because of concerns about sovereignty and democracy, and to embrace a more outward, globally free trading Britain than the protectionist EU would allow.
It was incredibly disheartening to see vocal Remainers lump in the vast majority of Leave voters with the few bigots who happened to vote in the same way.
And so, this morning, against all expectations, Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States. There is no denying he is thoroughly unsuitable for the job. A megalomaniacal, misogynistic, vacuous human being. But I would implore my American friends, and indeed everyone else, not to assume that the majority of your country is as bigoted as your president.
There will of course be some voters who opted for Trump because they are racist. But not all. There will be some who opted for Trump because they are misogynistic. But not all. There will be some who opted for Trump because they are ignorant. But not all.
Do not despair and denounce your fellow countrymen who may not have voted the same way as you. Whilst I’m of the opinion that she would have been the lesser of two evils (though Gary Johnson would have gotten my vote), there’s no denying that Hillary had some spectacular shortcomings of her own. The fact that both of these candidates were far from ideal is reflected in the lowest vote turnout since 2000, with 18 million fewer people going to the polls than in 2012.
Trump’s election is ultimately a rejection of business as usual. It’s a shame that that message could not have been attached to a more pleasant individual, but that is the message nonetheless. So I urge you not to chastise, belittle and condescend those that voted against you. Don’t assume that just because someone voted for Trump that they themselves are as backwards as the man himself.
In your visceral reaction to the election result, don’t lose sight of the fact that the overwhelming majority of people are good, kind, and tolerant, regardless of whose name they might put a check mark next to. Alienating and belittling those who vote a different way to you only further entrenches division. The American Republic is designed so that it’s democratic institutions act as a check on it’s Commander in Chief. Work with your fellow countrymen, and practice the tolerance and humanity you preach.