Votes of fear over faith

As the UK wakes up to another hangover of an election result, it feels like an excruciating case of deja vu. An election, in essence, should hand the power to the people but it feels like the wand is in very dangerous hands. The world has been watching Trump’s astonishingly fast advancement as he careered along the campaign trail with unprecedented speed. With baited breath nations have watched, willing the nightmare to end, polls leading us to believe that on November 8th we would indeed wake up, but it seems the successive horrors of the past 18 months were only just the beginning.

The polling right up until election days showed Hilary ahead in key states but the polls didn’t accurately show the effect of Trump’s campaign, particularly it seems in rural America. Quite literally overnight the pollsters, the media and America have been trumped. A high turnout of voters was expected but it seems which of those voters would show was wrongly predicted. Whites in rural and traditionally Republican areas have come out in numbers whilst the black vote was down in key areas which were traditionally more democratic.

More than who voted, why they voted is comparable to the reaction of multiple elections of late. Votes out of fear rather than faith have been reverberated throughout the Scottish Independence vote, Brexit, and now for America too. It seems that on both sides there was inclination to vote against the other candidate rather than putting the power in the hands of someone truly believed capable.

Trumps use of fear in his rhetoric is no secret and this is no new tactic, the politics of fear have played a huge part in victories throughout history. Trump picked up particularly on economic anxiety and economic comparison. He painted a picture of a ‘changing face of the USA’ where whites might not be the majority and married this with economic uncertainty. He took anxieties about trade and America’s role in the world, cherry picking who to blame, China one day, Mexican immigrants the next. This powerful combination of garnering fear and providing culpability worked in his favour to create the perfect platform for himself. The people want to feel protected and he offered himself as the only solution. Where Clinton used policy-focussed solutions, Trump unashamedly offered himself to be the only salvation. From history we know that in moments of despair we search for an idol to lead us to safety, regardless of said ‘idols’ often ludicrous, bigoted visions.

Jason McLure, managing editor of Global Journalist in Columbia, Missouri, talked to us as the last of the votes were being counted about the motivation for voting out of anxiety rather than hope. “Votes for Clinton weren’t particularly inspired by Clinton, and I think that many voting for Donald Trump also had a number of questions”.

If financial anxiety was a catalyst for voters this seems a null incentive, as we talked to Jason this morning he watched the dollar head in a downwards direction and discussed the uncertainty for prospects such as trade agreements and NATO.

“I’m looking at the election results on election night and you see the US dollar dropping dramatically, stock market future dropping dramatically. There is a lot of uncertainty.”

The world seems a dismal place today but to succumb to the very tool which was used throughout this campaign, allowing fear to consume and prevail is a step back one too many. A long struggle is ahead but it’s the only true road there is.

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