Political Party Membership as an Identity

Over the last few years I have been trying to educate myself on ideas and philosophies and current events that I had views on, but only passing understanding of. I have been guilty of opinionizing without truly understanding what I am talking about, I have had strong ideas on events and social programmes without really doing much research. I was, and in many respects still am, guilty of reading a headline and not the article. In this time, I have found that my views on certain things have solidified. I believe even more venomously that the Conservative Party are a behemoth of intolerance, xenophobia and stroking the flames of these issues for personal gain. I am even more convinced that Brexit had some sort of foreign influence. (Why the media were happy to accept Farage saying that he forgot why he went to visit the Ecuadorian embassy on the morning of Brexit I will never know.) 

However, there are issues that I have less understanding of by reading into them more. The Arab-Israeli conflict I had always taken as something that was primarily the fault of Israel and that movements such as the BDS were a wholly good thing. But after reading about and around this subject it seems so much more complicated than leftist rhetoric would have had me believe. This is not an article on this issue for the reason that I personally do not feel like I have a stance on this conflict. In spite of reading thousands of pages on the past and present debates around Israel and Palestine I cannot for the life of me figure where I stand on the issue. But this is an article on reassessing and re-evaluating. At looking at my own views and the parties that I feel reflect them. 

The rise of identity politics is something that has been extrapolated through social media. Increasingly there seems to be a tribalism, an unequivocal need to align yourself with issues and ideals as part of your identity or self. The idea of being unsure or confused is assimilated with passivity, with the idea that in not outwardly or vocally opposing something that you are in favour of the opposite. I don’t know where I stand on many issues, my personal perceived complexity of the sex/gender debate is one that I have particular issue with, but in not opposing certain points of view I can be accused of facilitating or even believing points of view which I find confusing, if not something I completely object to. This need to categorise wholeheartedly on a side of a debate has resulted in a politics that is increasingly extreme. Brexit gave the country a polarised question and created a polarised society. There is no space in the debate for any form of middle ground, it is as simple as ‘In’ or ‘Out’ with extremities in these camps, but even the most moderate and consensual on both sides are still opposites, they still both want opposite things with similar consequences. 

Anecdotal though it may be, I went to an event with Owen Jones immediately after the antisemitism row first appeared in mainstream media. (Read Deborah Lipstadt’s Antisemitism for an explanation about the differences in spellings and their meanings of antisemitism, absolutely fascinating.) Members of the party, some of whom I recognised, used the Q+A session to air grievances about their feelings that this was yet more smearing of Corbyn and was the work of ‘the Jewish Lobby’ who were scared of a Corbyn government. Although this in itself is antisemitic it was harrowing for these issues to all be seen as conspiracies against the leadership rather than legitimate concerns. I quote Lipstadt again in her view that Corbyn is not necessarily an antisemite himself but does enable these issues within his party. Links with Hamas and appearances in media that has outwardly both hardcore and softcore denied the Holocaust may not have much of a resonance with those who sympathise to the Palestinian cause. But to those Jews who are both Jewish in their identity and critical of Palestine, Corbyn comes across not as an ally but someone who is allying with radical extremists who call for the destruction of the Jewish race. Although Corbyn himself may be merely anti-Zionist or critical of the Israeli government the same cannot be said for the originator of the BDS movement who in their guidelines calls for the dissolving of the Jewish race or leaders of Hamas who are not only critical of Israel but have a long and complex history of their own attacks on civilians. 

No-one I ever talk to about Labour would try and convince me that they are a perfect party, just that they are just better than the Tories and that we should be pushing them because it will be better for almost everyone. I have no doubt that is the case, however tis self-righteousness comes with its own issues. In the current Labour party, in spite of the actual worst government that the UK has ever seen, there is still an uphill battle against almost everyone. The party seems to find opposition within the media, its own moderates and people who have previously been in support of the party. But half of the issue here is the inability, or at least unwillingness, to critique the left’s own radicals. The cult like following by some aspects of the party is almost Mao like, with people seemingly believing that Corbyn is the only path to socialism and that any attempt to oust him is an attempt to oust Socialism. Issues with his inability to lead, his divisive nature within his own party are similarly dismissed as smears. Obviously, this is all anecdotal as giving hard evidence would involve delving into the toxic twitter conversations that take place on a daily basis. But through my experiences I have seen that to some Corbyn is beyond critique and that any concerns or criticisms are seen as attacks on the concept of socialism itself. This is not to say that there are not those who harness this to try and rebuild Labour as the Blairite party it once was and return it to the centre. But dismissing all criticism as Blairite or Red Tory is both dangerous and counterproductive. 

The point I am trying to make I guess is that polarisation of politics is coming from both sides. I maintain that there are truly evil people and regimes in place at the moment that need protesting and rallying against. Trump is doing is utmost to split and divide the world like never before, creating a level of partisanship that I have never seen in my lifetime. But the fact that these evils are so evil does not make use that oppose them some sort of benevolent good. The UK Labour party has issues that are rooted in its own inability to self-reflect. There is a tendency for campaigns to lose their meaning, for an anti-austerity campaign to simultaneously become one that is linked with the BDS movement, campaigns against other foreign governments and a multitude of other issues. The idea of solidarity is one that Labour embraces as part of its identity. However, the issue with this is that it offers such a complete view of what the party stands for that it can be alienating to those on the fringes of the party who would like to get involved more, like me. I believe in certain aspects of the party and most of the core principles, but there are a lot of things about the party that worry me but are on the fringes yet embraced by the leadership. 

Of course, I will still vote Labour, I think my local MP is exceptional and that in a FPTP system they are the only logical and reasonable choice. I still will campaign against a party that has caused deaths through its cuts to services and continues to follow a financial plan that is devastating almost every aspect of society. However, I do so less for the current state of the Labour party and instead against the Conservative party. Labour is more like the party that I wish it had been for years, but the toxicity and disturbing history that has come along with its current leadership is something which makes my support waver. 

The tribalism that has plagued the country since Brexit is creating further divisions and debates with seemingly no end. Many will argue that I am projecting, that the tribalism I am arguing is because I personally am seeing vocal minorities. But with a media that puts emphasis on vocal minorities constantly, on both sides of the spectrum I must add, it increases the argument of totalised society. In Labour I feel the increasing need that if you are not left enough you are not welcome. The attempt to dilute Tom Watson’s role as Deputy Leader by instating a second deputy leader was argued as a way of increasing diversity as the new leader would be female. Projecting I may be, but the current efforts of changes to selection policies and such make me worry that this shift to the left is continuous and without end. That this tribalism is being enforced by both sides, that you are either with the party wholeheartedly, or against it completely and a voice that needs to go. Hatred of politicians such as David Miliband may be based on fears of a return to a Blairite government, but they are ultimately allying against Conservative governments and voices worth enabling. They may be critical but the ability to be self-critical is crucial to a healthy and working democracy. Tribalism from all sides of the political spectrum is what is the biggest threat to democracy as a whole. In order for the left to thrive, we need to be able to criticise ourselves and look at what is working and what isn’t within our own beliefs and structures. We need not criticise and demonise because someone is not left enough and feel they are a threat. Rather than ideological purity and fringe issues with incredibly complex histories we should be uniting, rather than accusing those who criticise as undermining. Because just being for or against something is worthless without understanding why you are but also why others might not be. Sometimes it is better to just try and understand why there is opposition without projecting your own easy answer.

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Are we on the brink of a dystopian future?

It seems almost too obvious to compare the current global climate to any dystopian fiction. 1984, the most famous example of dystopia, gave us the phrase ‘Doublespeak’ which is essentially dismissing unfavourable reporting as ‘Fake News’ but put a little more eloquently. But the recent TV adaptation of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood shows that maybe we should be taking the warnings of dystopian fiction a little more seriously, however impossible the futures they show may seem.

At first, Atwood’s novel may seem completely implausible. The book relies on a fertility crisis and a destruction of the democratic process in the united states, through force, that are beyond comprehension in a country that is supposedly the epitome of democracy and capitalism, The USA. Having a state that has regressed to the extreme side of the Puritan values that the USA was built upon seems impossible, especially when the whole point of the second amendment is to enable the population to revolt against such tyranny and threats to democracy. With the USA seeing itself in the last century as harbingers of democracy, the idea that tyranny could manufacture itself in ‘The Land of the Free’ is shocking.

The current state of the USA is primarily one of division. Trump, a president who feeds both off and into this division, who for the purpose of winning the presidency cloaked himself in the veil of the Republican Party. The way that the Republican Party operate is to argue that the USA is constantly under attack from a morally corrupt, liberal group. They argue that the Democratic party want to erode values that their supporter base holds dear, fundamentally these are values based on Christianity. Broadly, Republicans are against abortion and adhere to the morals of ‘The Christian Right’ embracing a more fundamentalist branch of Christianity than the increasingly moderate flavour that is embraced by more liberal Christians.

‘The Sons of Jacob’ in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ come to power under the guise of religion. The doctrine that they embrace is based upon passages from the Bible, directly using the text for their interpretation. The parallels I am trying to draw are obvious, that Trump’s regime could get away with anything and still have the support of ‘The Christian Right’ as long as it could be biblically justified, which seeing as the bible is an ancient book full of contradictory statements and vague passages, is surprisingly easy. If the government wanted to completely outlaw eating shellfish, then they could as they are directly forbidden in the bible.

But this is not just a dismissal of religion, primarily the major world religions try and encourage people to be well rounded and respectful. It is, however, a warning of the dangers of religion as a tool. The fact that a multiple divorcee and man who has broken so many values in the years before his radicalisation to a despot can be so warmly embraced by a community claiming Christian values is disturbing. It indicates that those who claim to be in the religious right do not really care about the ‘religious’ aspect and care more about their own beliefs, ones that have a tenuous footing in religion.

I suspect the reason why ‘The Religious Right’ foolheartedly follow the Republican Party is due to the two-party system in the USA. With no viable alternative to Trump, then backing the candidate and party which adheres to the values of the right is their only option, as hypocritical as it may seem.

Feeding into the bipartisan model of US Politics is the key to understanding how a ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ like reality could take foot in the USA. Tradition states that it was Philip of Macedonia who coined the term ‘Divide and Rule’, a term that has meanings both literal and interpretive but the idea of ideologically dividing a population in order to consolidate your rule is one straight out of the fascist’s handbook. The divisions that Trump is creating are causing a winning mentality, he even uses the word, in which his supporters feel like they are the winners and his opponents are the losers, regardless of the actual consequences for themselves. It even results in some members of his supporter base calling for fascism and supporting Trump in his attempts to clamour more power as it is the opposite of what his opponents want.

Offred, the protagonist from ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is essentially a birthing tool. She is systematically raped in the name of religion and it is justified by ‘The Sons of Jacob’ through religious text. In the current USA, there is no need for the justification through text, all that is needed is the word of Trump that is parroted by Fox News and not challenged by the majority of the Republican Party. Fascism could take hold, not through religious justification, but through people embracing their liberties being taken away. Serena Joy, in the TV series, helps write the legislation that takes away her own rights. She does this in the view that what she is doing is right, because she perceives the status quo as doing as wrong, rather than a reality somewhere in the middle.

Divisions in the political landscape are nothing new. The Democrats and Republicans have always had massive differences in political belief. But divisions being embraced by a president are relatively new. Usually, a president looks to unite a country, but with Trump’s victim mentality and embracing of far-right rhetoric and morals on an unprecedented scale in the modern United States, he is making no attempts to unify, and with his track record on women and race that would be impossible under his leadership anyway. His very election was symptomatic of a division, but he has further added a wedge to that very division.

The chances of Handmaids ever existing in the USA are minimal the idea of women’s rights being eroded under the guise of religion and fascism, however, is not. The guise of religion and a bipartisan political system which encourages winners and losers and mindless following of media and figureheads is a dangerous combination. It is a pessimistic view, that people would rather have the belief that they are winning over their own civil liberties, but Trump’s election proved that some people will willingly turn a blind eye if it helps soothe their neuroses. It is a scary thought that fascism could plant itself in democratic countries, but not one without reason.

The Grammys yet again prove that sexism is deeper than just the gender of the winner

The winners of last nights Grammys were, as always, the safe pedestrian picks. The headline travesty was Bruno Mars winning Album of the Year against a contingent of albums that are way more culturally and musically relevant than ‘24k Magic.’ Lorde’s exquisite ‘Melodrama’ and Kendrick Lamar’s politically charged and ‘Not-as-good-as-To-Pimp-A-Butterfly-but-still-a-good-album-piece’ of ‘DAMN.’ were specifically robbed. But the key point to take away from these awards is, despite Lady Gaga shouting out the ‘Times Up’ movement and giving Kesha a stage for her genuinely moving performance of ‘Praying’ in the performances, the award-giving proved yet again the intrinsic sexism alive in the music industry today.

At first glance, this may seem like a fallacy when questioning sexism within the Grammys. In the last decade, 6 of the 10 Album of The Year winners have been won by a female solo act or a band with female members. The significance is not with the winners but with the nature of the albums that won. In 2017 Adele beat Beyonce to Album of the Year, a decision so ludicrous that Adele used her acceptance speech to apologise to Beyonce. This decision is symbolic of the nature of sexism within the music industry, that being if you are a female artist you must adhere to a male-written narrative of what a female musician should be.

Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’ is reflective of women’s issues. The visual album that accompanied Lemonade made clear the internal struggles that drive the narrative of the album; dealing with cheating, possessiveness, loss and ultimately embracing forgiveness. Although these may not necessarily be healthy, they reflect the truth. In many ways, Lemonade is an album for the empowerment of women, one which towers above to the songbook of love ballads that Adele released in ‘25’. ‘25’ lacks in any sort of clear message and is merely a showcase for Adele’s powerhouse vocals.

This is not to say that the Grammys should be awarded purely on message. When it comes to Adele’s win I am certain that anti-feminist agenda was not the sole reason for Beyonce’s loss.  The ever-eternal spectre of racism surely played a part, as well as Adele’s commercial marketability. However, the feminist angle of Lemonade would have surely played a part in its loss due to its inability to appeal to a jury of elderly white males. An album of grieving ex-lovers is bound to appeal to the male fantasy more than a woman preaching female empowerment and wielding her own power.

Leaving aside Album of the Year, 2018’s Grammys had other signs that sexism plays a part in the awarding of honours.  SZA, the most nominated female in 2018 did not win one of her 5 nominations for CTRL, despite critical acclaim. SZA struggled with the same issue Beyonce did the year previous. Her album did not fit the male-driven narrative. An album of dealing with being the ‘Side-Chick’ and dealing with self-esteem issues was not going to appeal to male academy in the same way the sexiness of ‘Versace on the Floor’ would. As always, the issues of minority women are too much for the Grammys to handle.

The other major sign of sexism was Ed Sheeran winning Best Pop Solo Performance for ‘Shape of You.’ ‘Shape of You’ is not usually a song that would outrage me. Although about the objectification of body shape and being an incredibly creepy song with no musical redemption, ‘Shape of You’ beating out the previously mentioned ‘Praying’ by Kesha was a sign that only marketability matters, even in the face of sexism, regardless of race.

The years of court battles between Kesha and Dr. Luke regarding her claims of sexual assault are addressed emotionally and beautifully in an incredible vocal performance by Kesha. In awarding this performance the Grammys, and music industry had a real chance to back women’s rights. A win for Kesha would have been a massive step in accepting the ‘Me Too’ and ‘Times Up’ movements, however, marketability won over both artistic ability and political statement. The unfortunate truth is the power of music is snubbed in favour of marketability and safe options.

Maybe I am expecting too much of the Grammys. The awards have been plagued by allegations of racism (Macklemore beating Kendrick Lamar for Good Kid. MAAD City) and putting marketability over any sort of artistic nuance for years. Artists such as Kanye West and Frank Ocean have even gone as far as to boycott the ceremonies. But whilst the Grammys still hold weight to both artists and the public alike more should be done to award both males and females of all cultures, backgrounds, and beliefs. Awarding the general misogyny of ‘Shape of You’ in a year where massive movement was made by women in standing up against sexual assault will be looked back on unfavorably. But for now, it is better to ignore the winners of the Grammys and focus on the movements of the artists themselves. Kesha and Kendrick both pulled out politically charged performances which gave hope despite the awards themselves, it is this hope that creates the hope that one-day artistry will prevail over sexism, racism, and discrimination.

Apologising for how much I have dismissed Jeremy Corbyn

I will be the first to admit that were it not for a snap General Election being called I would not be apologising. However, in these uncertain and constantly changing times it is only fair that when my mind changes I admit to it and apologise.

I am not apologising for what I consider to be bad leadership. I am still uncertain of Corbyn’s credibility as a Prime Minister. But what I do apologise for is buying into the media narrative of him being a bad leader. Rather than focusing on the faults in the leadership of the opposition I bought into their own scapegoat of his leadership failing’s rather than May’s. It has become apparent through Theresa May’s refusal to debate you on television that neither of the party leaders are classically brilliant leaders. A leader should be willing and ready to debate at any opportunity. They should not have to selectively filter the questions they are asked at their own press events. Corbyn has not done either of these things, unlike the incumbent Prime Minister and, to me at least, that shows better leadership than we are led to believe we currently have.

I must also commend Corbyn and the Labour Party for the policy decisions which you and your party have put forth. For the first time in my living memory the public are being a given a real choice. It is not a choice between austerity and austerity-lite but a truly different alternative. There is nationalising the railways and royal mail, policies that the public are heavily in favour when polled purely on standalone issues. The Labour manifesto sets out real and tangible ways of saving the NHS and the failing school system. As an aside I must add that I find it comical that so many people who hold the NHS dear are the ones that oppose the principles of socialism on which it was based. Corbyn’s policies may be socialistic and in an incredibly right wing political climate may be too much for the public to stomach after years of increasingly right wing government, but the whole idea that there is a credible and real alternative makes me more excited to vote than I have been before in my adult life time.

I am cautiously optimistic about this election. I am not expecting a win, but any shift of the Overton Window would be a step in the right direction. Part of me would be happy to see the Tories win this election, to watch them struggle with the mess that they have created of Brexit. To watch as the people who have turned to the Tories in the wake of Brexit realise that they have nothing in common with the party other than a commitment to reducing immigration realise they have voted to destroy the NHS and schooling they hold dear. (I do have to point out here that immigration targets by the Tories have never been met.) However, I realise that this election is important to win as five more years of Tory rule could ultimately destroy the NHS as we know it

Although you have the option of voting you do not have to use this. I say this as if you believe both leaders to be equally bad and are not inspired to vote for either or do not feel involved in politics enough to the point of being able to decide then why do so. Ultimately if you are unsure but voting based on the strong and stable mantra without looking at policies or anything else that matters then you could be voting for something that you don’t believe in, that has just been spun in a way to make you agreeable to it. Elections are crucial and people should vote, but if you don’t know what you are voting for then you could be a turkey voting for Christmas.

Brexit may mean Brexit, but Brexit doesn’t mean May’s Brexit

It has been a week where what the public actually voted for in the EU referendum was finally, albeit slightly, revealed through Theresa May’s 12 point Brexit plan. Finally, we have some level of understanding of what a ‘Red, White and Blue Brexit’ signifies. These twelve points, which I will not discuss in detail here as it is not the purpose of my writing, are the backbone of what May hopes to achieve through her enacting of article 50 and the leaving of the European Union. But in summary, it makes Britain defy all laws of economics and sociology and become a centre of free trade.

However, what caught my eye was that, in spite of her pathetic attempts to stop it, May has agreed to let parliament vote on this issue. Democratically elected representatives will actually get a say on what constitutes such issues such as national sovereignty and will be allowed to debate the Brexit strategy. Despite the wishes of at least 48% of the nation there will be, and probably should not be, a repeal of the plebiscite that pushed the UK into Brexit, but a debate in parliament has the benefit of vetting the leaving plan and strategy. It allows parliament to check that this strategy does work in the UK’s favour, to the best of its ability.

With this in mind, what strikes me as odd is the complete nonchalance shown by Jeremy Corbyn by enacting the party whip in making sure his MPs vote in favour of the Article 50 trigger. By saying this Corbyn is essentially saying that what the Conservative government wants to happen in regards to Brexit will happen. Corbyn is making his MPs neglect their own constituents, the members of his party who mainly voted in favour of Remain and those people who may not oppose Brexit as an idea, but reject Theresa May’s vision of Brexit.

But to me, this is synonymous of the problems that embody Corbyn as the leader of the opposition. In the wake of Brexit, the Conservative party was in disarray, the Prime Minister had to step down and there was chaos. As much as the coup within the Labour Party did not help (and no it was not just the work of ‘Blairites’ and ‘Red Tories’ there are legitimate reasons from socialists such as myself why they had lost faith in Corbyn) absolutely no effort was made to try and make political gains from the self-destruction of the Conservatives, instead Labour self-destructed too and has not rebuilt at all in the same way the Conservatives have managed to. Corbyn cemented himself as the leader, but he has done little to actually oppose.

The media are partly to blame, as always, it is hard for Corbyn to get good press when he levels himself as someone who opposes the press. But press is not the issue, as we inhabit the world in which people are increasingly accessing news that only agrees with their opinion, not once have I seen Corbyn actually pressure the Government. Brexit would be a perfect time to state what he would do differently, how a Labour Government would handle Brexit. To oppose Article 50 in the commons, not because he wants to vote against the people, but to show the people that he does not agree with May’s Brexit. That he wants a Brexit that works for the people, rather than letting Phillip Hammond speculate that Britain may become a tax haven for the wealthy.

If Corbyn so drastically wants a rebrand to a more populist image, a man of the people for the people, then he should start listening to the people because at the moment people are rejecting him. If he wants to ‘respect the decision of the British People’ then he should also start respecting the opinion polls of the British people that put him behind Theresa May. That show a growing Liberal Democrat party whose leader is actually making and pushing the point of opposing Brexit.

There is cause for hope, as much as the dreaded rise of the far right is occurring through candidates such as Trump and Le Pen, the success of Bernie Sanders in the US Democratic primaries and Benoit Hamon recently surging in the polls in France shows that maybe it is dramatic change that people want rather than Fascism and Right Wing intolerance. Corbyn surged to Labour Party leadership because of these reasons. But unlike the aforementioned candidates, Corbyn has not been able to get his message out to outside of his own party. The issue is not so much what he stands for, but getting his message across.

Opposing Article 50 being triggered would show his leadership skills. It would send a message the Media could not ignore and one that would appeal to about 48% of the nation. In a world that is looking for alternatives, it is time that Labour, and by extension Corbyn, show the UK that Brexit can mean Brexit, but it does not mean May’s Brexit.

Because the world needs another opinion on the US Presidential Election

A question that is asked at the end of every election is whether the victor won the election or the loser lost it. Ultimately it is always somewhere between the two, the victor did things to win the election and the loser did things to lose it. But as the world prepares for the dawn of the age of President Donald J. Trump, I think the progressive Left can look for hope in a belief that it was not Trump who won the election, but Hillary Clinton who lost it.

2016 will be remembered in history for two votes, The EU Referendum and the US Presidential election, with their common ground being a rejection of the status quo. Both the UK and the US voted for change, a change that personally I feel is more detrimental than beneficial to both nations but a change nonetheless. Unfortunately, I believe that this change is no more than a desire by some of the people who voted for them as a return to an era that does not and cannot longer exist, with desires of Making America Great Again and Taking Back Control in a world where that is increasingly impossible and actually counterproductive on a global stage. However, the desire for change from the status quo is admirable and one that I can back.

Obama promised “Change we can believe in” and captured an optimism and desire for progressive change. A desire by the people to make an African American president, a desire to create affordable healthcare and a desire for social changes. The jury is out on if he succeeded here and what his legacy will be. Hillary tried to recapture this hope of progressive change by trying to become the first woman president but that was not enough against a man who claimed he would provide real change. Trump was arguing for a complete change to the establishment, the dismantlement of the political juggernaut families and the like, (he beat a Bush in order to become republican nominee) whereas to many Americans Clinton was the embodiment of establishment politics.

This election could never have been about anything else than anti-establishment politics. When Clinton faced Sanders in the primaries, in an election that I believe to have been rigged by the DNC in favour of Clinton, she was constantly attacked for being a member of the establishment. Sanders galvanised a progressive movement in the US similar to the one that Corbyn represents in the UK and created a group of people who described themselves as “Bernie or bust.” Democratic, left-leaning supporters who wanted the dismantlement of establishment in a similar way that Trump’s supporters desired. They could not wholeheartedly vote for Clinton because she was in many ways the enemy, any vote for Clinton would be one of reluctance and in many ways, in a parallel of what the media has accused Trump of on many occasions, fear.

Trump opposes almost everything I stand for. His stances on immigrants, minorities, abortions and almost every other social policy I can fathom are despicable and in many ways something to fear. However, fear of Trump alone is not enough to start a movement (Although recent events in America may soon prove this wrong), especially when it is being spearheaded by someone who people in her own party see as untrustworthy and dishonest. Trump harnessed fear in a direct sense, he picked up on the fear of immigrants, fear of job losses and fear of America losing its premier position in world politics. Clinton tried to fight a campaign on fear too, however, this was the fear of what Trump could do and thus more hypothetical. There is undoubtedly reason to be fearful of Trump when being a minority in the US, and for some this would be reason enough to vote for Clinton, but for many this was not. This is reflected in the overall results where Trump got approximately the same votes as Mitt Romney in 2012 and John McCain in 2008. Hillary got 10 million less than Obama in 2008 and 5 million less than in 2012.

In that sense is it possible to say that Trump won the election? Trump managed to maintain a core Republican base, even when being such a divisive candidate, but Hillary did not manage to get out the voters that Obama did. Hillary did not manage to connect with millennials in a way that resulted in increased turnout like Obama did. Hillary did not create a movement like Sanders did. To that extent, this election is less about Trump beating Clinton and more Clinton (and the DNC) failing to connect with America.

So why has this given me optimism? In many ways it cannot be argued that the right is growing, votes and turnout did not drastically improve in this election. It could be argued that the left is dwindling, however, I would argue that the fall in turnout was more due to the apathy of establishment politics. Both Republicans and Democrats want a change to the norms of the establishment as witnessed by the meteoric rise of Sanders. Trump was an outsider, no experience of public office and woefully underequipped and prepared for the job, but to Republicans, this did not matter he was better than the democratic candidate. To many people, swing voters, and democrats alike, Clinton was the lesser of two evils* but not something worth voting for, or making the effort to vote for. Essentially these people were less Pro-Clinton and more Anti-Trump whereas Trump’s supporters were Pro-Trump making them more likely to vote Trump. Ultimately fear of Trump was not enough. What gives me optimism is that establishment politics is under attack from both sides. It saddens and distresses me greatly that it is the Right and a man who’s few endorsements are from groups like the KKK and NRA who is in control of the most powerful nation on earth, but I am heartened by the fact that more and more people want change to a system that is not working for them. I hope that this encourages the Left to create movements for progressive and more worthwhile change that is based less on fear, like both sides peddled this election and more on hope optimism and real reform of a world that right now is working for the few, such as Trump and Clinton and not for the many such as you and me.

* I do wish to add as a footnote that this lesser of two evils argument has come under attack from people who claim that this argument was damaging to Clinton. People are free to think whatever they want, both candidates were terrible options for America just one was worse than the other. In my opinion, this is damaging to Clinton but the truth.