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14 November 2016

Why are the general public who voted for radical change then branded Neanderthals?

The Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump represent a peaceful, democratic revolution, says Ruth Dudley Edwards

Donald Trump

I’m grateful to hysterical left-wingers for reconciling me so quickly to the election of Donald Trump. It was reminiscent of the days after Brexit, when having been rather nervous about having voted for it, I was reassured by the sheer tunnel-vision and viciousness of many Remainers that we Leavers had done the right thing.

In both cases, the people who voted for radical change were denounced by the guardians of the status quo as being Neanderthals.

As opponents similarly accused all Trump voters of being racist, misogynistic, homophobic, stupid and generally horrible, I thought of the decent, intelligent people in Indiana who the previous week had explained to me why they thought him the lesser of two evils.

They were concerned about such serious issues as insecure borders, Islamist terrorism, a plunge in their incomes from the outsourcing of manufacturing industry, late-term abortion and a new healthcare system so badly planned that it was ruinous to many middle-income people.

Yet the liberal establishment seemed more concerned about the provision on campuses of non-discriminatory bathroom facilities for the transgendered.

When I settled down to watch the election results, I still thought Mr Trump’s emotional immaturity, short attention span and touchiness made him temperamentally unfit to be president and desperately didn’t want him in charge of a nuclear arsenal.

The trouble was, I didn’t want Hillary Clinton to win either, because under her it would have been a continuation of rule by smug progressives who seemed incapable of understanding the reasons why a recent poll showed 62% of US voters believe the country is on the wrong track.

Yet Mr Trump had had an instinctive understanding of the justifiable anger of the vast slew of unfashionable people who felt ignored and despised by rulers who thought globalisation an unalloyed good and its victims acceptable collateral damage.

Showman that he is, he was shameless in using offensive rhetoric to draw attention to a campaign that was being written off by politicians, pollsters and pundits, yet Clinton’s rhetoric — if less gross — was just as pernicious.

When she called half of Trump’s voters “deplorable”, she unwittingly demonstrated the chilling bigotry of privileged, entitled people who know nothing about those they denounce.

It took me back to the mid-1990s in Ireland, when the UK nationalists and liberals of all descriptions thought it fine to show contempt and loathing for members of the Orange Order.

Mrs Clinton made it clear over and over again that her sympathies were — it seemed — exclusively with feminists, ethnic minorities, and those claiming any sexual identity other than that of male heterosexual.

For years, like Labour in Britain, Democrats had adopted identity politics that divided communities and saw minorities of all kinds as voting fodder.

They also closed down in public where they could all debate on contentious social issues.

Parents who had sacrificed a great deal so their children could have a college education saw them turn into ideological, intolerant social justice activists.

It was no surprise in the end that traditional voters began to think like victims and mobilise like a despised minority and that in his refusal to be silenced by free-speech-suppressing political correctness, Donald Trump seemed like a saviour. Watching the election on television and realising that Clinton was a goner, I found I didn’t care and the more the commentariat screamed, the more I realised how dangerous a choice she would have been.

What matters to me is the future of the West, not what President-elect Trump said about groping women or keeping out illegal immigrants and potential terrorists.

It’s what he does in practice that matters: his record shows him to be an impeccable equal opportunities employer. I’m not happy about him, but the people have spoken and the institutions have to cope with it.

If you think about it, what the United Kingdom and America have done is to have democratic revolutions with no bloodshed.

If the European ruling parties and the EU commission don’t come to their senses and address the issues troubling the mainstream electorate, what happens on the continent in the next 12 months could be a very different story.

Ruth Dudley Edwards’ The Seven: The Lives And Legacies Of The Founding Fathers Of The Irish Republic, was published by Oneworld Publications on March 22.

Ruth Dudley Edwards

© Ruth Dudley Edwards