All over the Western World, people are increasingly discontented with the political system or simply turning their backs on it. Extremism and isolationism is on the rise. And who can ignore the elephant in the room: ‘The Donald’?
If anyone had told me two years ago that Donald Trump would almost certainly be the Republican presidential candidate, I would have thought them completely mad. Next they’ll be telling me that Leicester City will win the English Premier League. Now, there is a real chance that he might become president of the United States, with his finger on the nuclear button.
Why is this happening? Today’s politicians seem more out of touch than ever with the ‘man (or woman) in the street’. We are governed by a professional political elite rather than people who reflect ourselves. Trump’s main shtick is his ‘one-of-us’ anti-establishment credential, which sounds pretty rich coming from a billionaire who inherited wealth.
Old school ties
A recent study conducted by the UK government’s Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission showed that 33 percent of UK MPs were educated at private schools and 24 percent of them went to Oxbridge. Regarding the population as a whole that compares to 7 and just under 1 percent respectively. Also, only 23 percent of MPs are women, although women make up 51 percent of the population. So not much like us there, then.
In Denmark, there is an increasing number of ‘career politicians’ who’ve risen through the ranks of their party’s youth organisations. They may (or may not) have completed an academic education, but most have not had any experience of the ‘real world’ (i.e real work).
We often see Danish MPs or local politicians changing parties once elected. This shows an arrogant attitude towards the electorate and comes across as a cynical career move. Added to that is the unedifying sight of MPs awarding themselves superlative salary and pension packages whilst preaching austerity and imposing cuts on everyone else.
Lies, damned lies, statistics
Then there is spin and lies. The EU referendum campaign in the UK has become increasingly acrimonious and dirty. Both sides are being ‘economical with the truth’. A good example is Boris Johnson’s claim that the EU costs the UK £350 million per week, which is also emblazoned on his campaign bus. In fact, due to the rebate negotiated by Margaret Thatcher, this amount is only £248 million per week. Factor in money returned in various grants and subsidies and a figure of £136 million per week emerges.
An item on the Politicus USA website states that 91 percent of Donald Trump’s claims have been examined and found to be false. In 2015 he won a Politifact Award for the ‘Lie of the Year’. Out of 77 statements that were checked, 76 were mostly false or downright lies.
This kind of behaviour alienates ordinary voters, who just want good government and to make their views heard through the democratic process. If they also feel that elected politicians no longer represent them and are ignoring them once in power, they will stay home instead of voting. That leaves the field clear for extremists, and then we will really be in trouble.