Mockery will only make Trump and Brexit worse
The average Trump supporter and Brexiteer, though separated by thousands of miles and countless other cultural differences, tend to have a general feeling in common. They’re sick of not being represented by their government and they’re tired of being spoken down to.
With that in mind, isn’t it a pity that as soon as each result came out, most of the people who opposed them rushed to mock, slander, belittle and generally poke fun at them for their vote? These people who have felt almost backed into a corner, many of whom voted to ‘see some change’ initially only see their opinions once again treated as worthless. Not even just by their government, but by compatriots and peers as well.
I understand the anger. I understand the resentment. I understand the frustration of every single person who voted for the alternative outcomes to these major political shifts, which will impact the daily lives of us all more than we can probably imagine. But reacting with hatred and vitriol isn’t constructive. The two victorious campaigns both thrived off hatred and vitriol in the run up to their successes. If their leaders flourished in that environment previously, then surely they will again now. During the run ups to the election when I saw news stories or social media posts laughing at or talking down to Trump’s supporters I thought to myself, “if I was going to vote for him because I wanted to be heard, being slighted for making my opinion known would only make me want to back him more.”
Then, regardless of the mammoth backing from the public, Trump is clearly a man who laughs at his detractors, blinded by his own warped ego, and endeavours to prove them wrong. No matter what you think of the man, he’s won. So, those who said he couldn’t clearly were incorrect. And unfortunately, continually poking him with the stick that is social media is only likely to spur him on to continue along the course he is.
In his recent podcast series, Revisionist History, Malcolm Gladwell discusses the ‘Satire Paradox’ – a term which relates to how political satire, intended to belittle a candidate or party the comic sees as inferior, can do the opposite. Gladwell interviews Harry Enfield and discusses his character Loadsamoney, a parody of 80s Thatcherites, who worked as builders, read The Sun, and spent ‘loadsamoney’ getting drunk at the weekend thanks to the short term boom her reign gave their industries.
Enfield stopped using the character though when he realised the simple fact that this wasn’t highlighting to these sorts of people how horrible he thought their behaviour was, they also loved the character as much as those who loved to hate him. He was a funny, successful bloke, and they all saw themselves as being just like that too. Sure, he was a little obnoxious, but he wasn’t harming anyone in their eyes.
Similarly, when people poke fun at Trump and Farage, it can make them seem more endearing to their supporters or those sat on the fence. Take the consistent jokes aimed at Farage about how he’s always in a pub, pint in hand. Those who oppose him think, “what an incompetent idiot, all he does is drink,” and they laugh at that. However, those who like him think, “man of the people, just like me and my mates, I wouldn’t mind having a pint with him.” Therefore, the parody is useless. It’s just a way for the detractors to get a cheap laugh, while those in favour become even more enamoured by him.
If you care about politics, which assuming you’re a human being reading this you at least mildly should be, then now unfortunately isn’t a time for jokes. Huge divisions have been caused before the Trump reign has even got underway and Brexit is yet to truly be put in motion. I’m not saying you should agree with Donald about anything, but in his first speech after the result he talked about binding those wounds between people and coming together.
Whether you agree with the man on anything else or believe he’s speaking sincerely, this is a sentiment we can all unite behind. Instead of snide comments and aimless sarcasm, honest conversations between people would be much more beneficial to us all right now. If we’re going to make the best of the situations we’re in, they need to start as soon as possible.