Welcome to the Liberal Echo Chamber
We’re a day ahead but decades behind. That’s what this political year has proven so far. We’ve all the most up-to-date polls and political experts and pundits at our disposal to pick apart every titbit of information, every soundbite and statement. Every 24 hour news network and newspaper taking the public pulse and keeping them up-to-date with all the happenings. We’ve got the most modern and forward thinking system ever to work out who’s going to win. We’re already trying to judge tomorrows outcome. It’s what we’re voting for that’s decades behind.
The Brexit referendum has been a step back from decades of progressive internationalism. A vote to “bring back control” in a bid to reassert national sovereignty to the British people and away from the bureaucratic superstate of the EU.
Across the Atlantic in the United States Trump proved he was Mr Brexit. Beating all of the overwhelmingly impossible polls and figures that said he couldn’t. Hillary Clinton’s lead in the polls was ultimately non-existent. The polls were completely out. The numbers of quiet Trump voters who turned out was unprecedented and the Democrats and Clinton campaign simply weren’t good enough at enthusing the minority votes.
There are many reasons both for Brexit and the Presidential election outcome that give excuses but there’s only one that matters. Liberals forgot about everyone else. It’s easy to lose track when you’re focussed to not see anything apart from what you want to see. That’s what has happened to liberals. We’ve put on the blinders and blocked out everything apart from our own successes.
This obliviousness to everything else isn’t intentional but it’s a byproduct of how we live our lives. We pride ourselves on our open-mindedness to new cultures and ideas. Understanding of those different to ourselves. Respect the right of the individual and a belief in internationalism and co-operation across nations as a means to bring us together and fight the wrongs in the world.
We are more likely to live in one of the sprawling metropolitan cities that benefit the most from the globalised economy. We’re likely to enjoy travelling the world more than staying in our native country. Through this we’ll likely benefit from globalisation more or at least not lose as much as our more conservative leaning and more rural cousins. The job might be long hours and stressful but the prospects long term might be what we’ve always wanted and ultimately it is a job. There are hardships it must be accepted. Lack of affordable housing and if there is any at all often only at outrageously high prices. Increasingly stressful and challenging work environments. Pollution and congestion. Everyone faces strife in these big cities but you’ll still be more exposed to the bounty globalisation brings with it and enjoy a better quality of life inside that city than outside them.
Globalisation benefits those who it reaches. If it doesn’t extend further than the suburbs of London or New York or Paris then it doesn’t reach enough people. You need only look at the geographical divisions of the Brexit vote and the splits in the Presidential election to see how this played out. The Brexit vote in the UK, excluding Scotland, was essentially London against the country and a similar case in the US. The democrat vote was locked to the ocean states on each coast and particularly the major internationally facing cities. The economic powerhouse of the countries which have been shifted towards white collar technology industry rather than the blue collar furnaces of old. Liberals stuck to where they shared similar views and accordingly better prospects for life. We like people who share the same values as us. That’s basic human nature. You associate and flock towards who and where makes you feel welcome.
Therein lies the liberal echo chambers. People enjoy being comforted by similar views and often associate those on the other side of the spectrum as being wrong or holding bigoted views. This innate liberal superiority complex has in part been the downfall in the Brexit vote and the US election.
This illiberal liberalism comes in two forms. Simple blissful ignorance which most people have been victims of. Nobody is at fault for living their lives it’s just they don’t seen how certain other people don’t share their views. They enjoy the benefits of their life and carry on as they are perfectly entitled to do.
The other form is more caustic to liberal prospects moving forward than the aforementioned ignorance. There is a growing pocket of liberally identifying activists who are taking the left wing role of the fact-deniers of the right. They don’t deny facts, instead opting to arm themselves with numerous specific facts that promote their personal ideology. They accept all people and all cultures so long as they adhere to their preconceived worldview. It betrays the liberal identity and does little to show those who’re already against us that we’re any different from their preconceived notions of us.
Liberal need to realise this and redress it. They need to find a way to bring the the non-metropolitan and working class back in from the cold and keep the promises that matter to them. Not more globalisation will help you out of this hole. It’s trickle down economics on a global scale and it doesn’t work for blue collar industry when the jobs won’t come back. People see this as a dismantling of their history and their children’s future. A shrinking of their prospects and they hark to what they’ll always have to fall back on.
Much of the feeling behind Brexit and Trump was a large percentage of the national population felt like they’d been left behind, forgotten by the world. Liberalism didn’t do enough and all the promises it made never materialised. It’s given rise to populist messages and nativism the world over. Nationalism and populism are a security blanket people turn to when they don’t see any alternative and everything before has seemingly failed. People want to feel safe and in it’s purest form people can associate with being part of a country and an identity. They don’t feel alone in the world.
There are many more momentous votes to come over the next few years across Europe that will define if we’re learning the lessons or not. We can’t make any difference to the results now. The damage is done but we can change how we are going forward and give ourselves hope for the future
Everyone who voted against Trump or for Hillary or who voted for Remain over Leave feels lost. The political earthquakes have started and the sense of shock on both occasions has left the backers of both causes reeling. We never thought it would happen and when it did we didn’t have a plan for it.
So remember how that feels right now. How you feel being forgotten and not having a voice. How it feels as if everyone suddenly has different views to you and they you’re not so right anymore. That’s how almost everyone who voted the other way felt. Remember that feeling and go out and make a difference. Don’t just sit back and moan or rebuild your bubble. Pull your head out of the sand. You’re now in the minority and it’s a cold place politically. You’ll be out here for a long time unless you find the fire to fight for what you believe in. Do it on the values you believe in and the message you want others to adopt. Winning back liberalism won’t work on voting people now. You need to instead show the future voters what you stand for and bring them onside. Only then can we hope that to get the dream back on track. If we don’t realise that then we’ll be out here for a very long time indeed and we’ll realise just how forgotten everyone else felt all those years.