First Brexit, now Donald Trump: Why disillusioned voters choose to leap into the unknown

by Alexis Sogl

First Brexit, now Donald Trump. It is not hard to draw a parallel between the two. Deindustrialisation in a globalised world causes great distrust in those who feel left behind.

This election has been, “very much about economics, rather than social issues,” says Alex Sundstrom, from Republicans Overseas, at his last public forum before the election. “Americans in the UK are in a privileged position just by virtue of being able to go abroad, they need to have compassion for the American worker.”

In the large part, Republican states have done poorly under the Obama administration. North Dakota saw a decline of 11.4 per cent in its GDP in the first quarter of 2016 alone. That trend has been equally true in the UK, where regions like the North East of England that suffered rapid industrial decline in the 1980s, largely voted for Brexit. Statistics from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis show a steady period of growth for the country as a whole, but that has not been a reality for voters in many Republican states, fuelling distrust and even anger toward the political establishment. This has also proven true for the UK, with national figures not taking into account the differences on a regional level.

Robert Ravelli of Democrats Abroad, said that Republicans “constantly gridlock the House.” American politics is based on bipartisan cooperation, but with no compromises being made little has been achieved. According to GovTrack, the last two sessions of Congress have seen the lowest number of enacted laws since at least 1973. The UK has had two major parties, Labour and the Conservatives, which have held each other to account in a more informal manner. Statistics from the Electoral Commission show that support for the two parties declined from 89.4 per cent of the popular vote in 1950 to 67.3 per cent in the last election.

Alex Sundstrom said: “Donald Trump appeals to voters who have fury for the establishment.” To traditional Republican voters, this does not sit well. Before Brexit, the leaders of every major party, most national institutions and academics called for voters to remain in the European Union. Despite this, more than 17 million people chose to vote “Leave” in a clear rebuke to the establishment.

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