Some may say even gratifying the notorious persona, now Republican 2016 Presidential candidate, Donald Trump, with an ‘ism’ is an outrageous step even in itself. However, there is no shortage of evidence to suggest that the UK has in fact recently moved towards a similar political attitude itself.
This is somewhat of a scaremongering rhetoric, though such an argument has merit when analysing the fast paced shifts in UK politics.
Firstly, the vote to leave the European Union was a historic day in UK history. The result created uproar from a minority of voters who believed the UK had taken a dangerous step for its future. Calls for a second referendum and accusations of misleading information were made. Ultimately, for the first time in hundreds of years, the population began to question the very essence of democracy. Despite the result having the most legitimate majority in years based on voter turnout and increased voter registration, a greater proportion of citizens were discontented with the foundation of our society than ever before.
Throughout this uproar, our friends on the other side of the Atlantic were in a similar position of dismay. Despite the harpings of Madison at the ability of the US system to fight against major uprisings of support for rather ‘non-mainstream’ candidates (to put it politely), in the eyes of many of its citizens, it has now failed.
I could now proceed to discuss the threat to democracy that the phenomenon on both sides of the Atlantic may have on the oldest pillars of modern democracy in the World. Although this would be warranted under the circumstances, I shall stick to my point.
The vote to leave the European Union epitomised the new found attitude that we are ‘better off alone’. Unlike bygone eras, UK citizens have been undeterred by financial institutions and politicians threatening anarchy without greater regional and global integration.
Finally, an individualistic sentiment has prevailed. It is no longer feared that we cannot survive on our own merit.
Similarly, the support garnered by Trump seems, to some extent, to represent the same idea. His stronger stance on immigration, in particular, has evoked new found nationalism amongst his supporters. The idea of ‘building a wall’ is no longer troublesome for global hegemony, rather a symbol of new found strength, security and prosperity.
Ultimately, this represents a shift away from the more liberal idealist view of politics, in favour of a more realist narrative. States no longer intend to foster relationships in order to better themselves, but protect and emit power abroad.
Along with this shifting political narrative, ‘Trumpism’ has ushered in a media more ruthless and politically jarring. American news broadcasters have openly welcomed the shocking and story-worthy, controversial sound bites from Trump. I would argue that it is this media obsession with Trump that has largely orchestrated his success. Even members of his own staff have attested to the contrived controversy in order to grab media headlines. In this case, he has most definitely succeeded.
Disappointingly, the desire for UK newspapers for similarly controversial headlines has mirrored such trends. For a long time our media has sought the most controversial headlines in order to increase sales. This hasn’t lamented with the rise in internet new agencies, the decline of print editions and the 24-hour news cycle.
Though, the recent Conservative leadership election and ongoing Labour leadership contest are testament to the new ferocity of modern media outlets. Specifically with regards to political campaigns, they now provide ruthlessly scathing accounts of blunders and spun stories. The pursuit of a story instead of fact is now a sad marker of the politics of this generation.
Coupled with the UK’s new found love for reality shows, larger than life holiday celebrations and all other things American, ‘Trumpism’ appears just another shift in British culture.
Defying the odds to secure the Republican Presidential nomination, the impact of Donald Trump on both US and UK political culture is only set to continue to deepen. Whether ‘Trumpism’ is merely a description for inevitable changes to modern society as it evolves or a reaction to the economic turmoil and growth in terrorism that has been witnessed in the last decade is debateable.
What remains true is the success of Donald Trump is not a lone event. He merely typifies a new political direction.
The UK, with its impending independence from Europe, should remain cautious if it continues to emanate the sensibilities of this new political figure.
Charlotte Chase is a member of the Bow Group and Co-Founder of Generation Conservative