I don’t write about politics much on my blog but now is the time I feel we need to talk.
I am a Scottish, in my late 20’s, female, living in London and I have a degree in Politics and International Relations specialising in America. I started my degree as I was an over zealous 18 year old who wanted to change the world and have real conversations about big issues. Soon I became disheartened, everything conversation seemed to be based on the past, some things old men I didn’t care about said once and shouting at each other. After I graduated I kept up to date with basic news, voted, signed petitions and occasionally emailed my local MP but was was much less engaged. The Scottish referendum gave me a little nudge but being in London and unable to vote I felt disconnected. Then 2016 came along and woke me up with a jolt.
What is going on? How did we end up here? Is this actually happening?
The people in my life or that I choose to follow online may have different opinions to mine, but we all have similar values and the thought of fear mongering ‘leaders’ like Farage or Trump actually gaining any traction yet alone winning campaigns seemed like a joke.
But politics is not funny whether we like it or not from local government to international relations politics effects almost every aspect of our lives therefore if we want change we can not sit back and hope that disaster doesn’t strike.
There is no going back on what has been done and though my initial reaction was to hide under my duvet and never resurface instead I want to take this opportunity to act.
Brexit and the Presidential election were not won on just one factor, this was fear based politics that cut into the heart of deep issues.
Voting decisions are not clear cut and many people cast their ballot fuelled by fear, confusion or the feeling that they were choosing between the lesser of two evils. Though I voted remain I can completely empathise, during the EU Referendum I did my research but was left unclear on the facts blinded by the flashy campaigns containing no substance.
Others voted because they feel left behind by the fast pace of change in the world. Afraid of what might happen in the future they cling to the past and were enticed by slogan like ‘Make America Great Again’ and ‘Take Back Control’ which were fuelled by the press with fear mongering headlines that I will not draw further attention to.
I do not believe that everyone that voted for Brexit or Trump are racist, homophobic, woman haters I think that is too simplistic however a combination of these views, lack of education and financial instability are contributing factors and are all issues that cannot be ignored. Lashing out and tarring all Leave and Trump supporters with the same brush vilifies those who made their choice for different reasons segregating them and closing any chance of a conversation. It also gives power to those with extreme views making them feel legitimised by being associated with a group as large 50% of the country.
Despite the amount of noise that extreme right wing voters make we need to remind ourselves that they are a minority. I think this is white supremacists last stand and I want to see it fall.
Just as with post Bretix Britain we will see a rise in these hateful attitudes and segregation but this is why I believe that fighting instead of giving up. It may seem bleak but there are ways that we can build a better more tolerant future.
Don’t Sit Back And Watch
The UK government has a Challenge it, Report it, Stop it campaign against hate crime which is simple. Challenging the attacker directly may aggravate the situation or put you at risk but try and let the victim know you are there for them, if safe talk to them or stand near them to let them know they are not alone. If you do not feel safe then try and record the aggressor on your phone. Report any incident ( 101 in the UK) it may seem pointless but the more hate crimes that are recorded create more stats so that there is evidence supporting the gravity of the issue meaning it can no longer be ignored.
This derogatory behaviour can also happen online, if you see someone being attacked ignore the troll and speak to the victim letting them know you are their for them.
There are many more issues that will be raised in the wake of this election result including the environment, gun control and human rights. You can get involved by utilising social media to support a cause, signing or starting petitions, or even protesting. Today I could barely find the words to express my disappointment online but shared tweets and articles which summed them up much more eloquently than I could. These may seem like small steps but the more people that join together the less easy it is to ignore.
Remember that elected officials serve the people so use them, most politicians have twitter,an email address and even drop in surgeries so get in touch, raise your concerns and share your thoughts.
If you care about something don’t just sit back and hope that others will deal with it, use your voice, we all have the tools to get involved.
Let’s talk, listen and ask questions
One of the reasons that I gave up on politics was it was all about shouting each other down. I am tired of the loudest person in the room winning and I am sure others will be too. So let’s try and talk, listen and ask question not only to those with the same views but more importantly those that are different maybe we can learn something from one another because what we have right know doesn’t seem to be working.
It’s not plain sailing putting an opinion out there, people may disagree, or discredit your viewpoint which can be frustrating but can also be opportunity for learning and opening up a conversation. Of course there will also be trolls but they are also a minority and like Freddy Krueger feed off your energy so don’t give them any.
Lets say Fuck Off to the dated and oppressive view that ‘its rude to talk politics’. This is the world I live in and I want to at least feel like I have tried to be part of the decisions being made on my behalf.
Try and Cling Onto The Positives
After these results people can no longer pretend that racism and sexism are not still present in today’s society.
If younger generations follow the voting pattern of millennials we have a bright, more tolerant future ahead.
Hillary Clinton may not have won but being the Presidential Candidate was a milestone for women.
Many of us have been raised in a system where we feel like we are powerless, but we are not. I don’t have any definitive answers, this is written whilst still processing the election results but I do know that I cannot see a better future by looking inwards towards outdated views.