Continuing my “Blog Blog Project,” I’ll be posting blogs from students in my “Media and Politics” and “National Agenda: Road to the Presidency” classes. The first blog, below, comes from University of Delaware Communication major and Junior, Kathia Cubas. She is in the “Media and Politics” class, where we’ve been discussing the media’s role in elections. Here, she applies what has happened in the U.K. to the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.
To state the obvious, the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election is quickly approaching; it will take place in 29 days to be exact. It is safe to say that most American citizens are on edge about who will become the next Commander in Chief. To take some of the edge off of all the issues surrounding the election, we can steer ourselves away from our own country’s news and talk about what is happening on the other side of the pond in the U.K.: Brexit. It’s an event that recently took the news in the U.K. by storm, but as an American you might be wondering ”what is Brexit? Why does it matter to the United States? How does it even affect us?” (Hint: It might just bring us back to the topic of our own Presidential Election, but we will get back to that.)
On Thursday June 23rd, 2016, a vote took place in the U.K., in which every citizen of voting age could partake, to decide whether the UK should “leave” or “remain” in the European Union. With a vote that included more than 30 million people, “leave” was decided, 52% to 48%. The vote was almost completely split and “leave” won by a small margin. The call for a vote on this issue came about in 2012 when former prime minister, David Cameron, rejected it. However, he hinted at a possibility of a future vote which the British people eventually took part in thanks to the enormous popularity of Boris Johnson.
Boris Johnson is the former Mayor of London who spearheaded the campaign for the U.K. leaving the European Union. More importantly, he has been compared to a certain presidential candidate in our own election on a few occasions. There have been many instances where Johnson has taken many contradictory positions, where it is almost impossible to know what he believes. He has divided his conservative party and is known for his quick-witted and ruthless politics. Remind you of anyone?
Yes, there have been three other instances where a country or territory decided to “leave” the E.U. but none of them were full fledged members like Britain. Since Johnson’s major victory in the Brexit vote, several issues have come about. According to Brian Wheeler and Alex Hunt of BBC news, after the initial shock of the Brexit vote David Cameron resigned as Prime Minister the following day, the value of the pound remains at a 30-year low, Britain’s cost of government borrowing will be higher, and the Bank of England has decided to make interest rate cuts in order to fend off an economic recession. Also according to USA Today, “the U.S. stock market drop erased roughly $800 billion in U.S. market value”.
Most people might think, “how could the British people voluntarily let this happen by choosing to ‘leave’ the E.U.?” What most people do not understand is that Boris Johnson was able to create anti-trade and anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.K., which eventually led voters to believe that leaving the E.U. was the best option. Also, according to NBC news, 75% of people aged between 18 and 24 voted to “remain” in the union but not enough millennials turned out to vote and were overruled by people over the age of 65.
So at this point you might be wondering, how does this even remotely have anything to do with our own presidential election?
First, Donald Trump has been able to create the same sentiments in Americans that Boris Johnson created in the British people. He has promised to negotiate trade deals to bring back factories to the U.S., build a wall along the Mexico-U.S. border, and deport illegal immigrants currently living here. Just his slogan “Make America Great Again” has created a huge amount of patriotism and now he is the Republican nominee for the president of the United States. Second, as we discussed in class, many Millennials and my own peers have described the 2016 presidential race as disappointing and negative. We have seen that approximately 50% of likely voters do not plan to vote for their candidate because they agree with their policies but instead use their vote as a vote against the opponent. This brings about the question: “Why even vote?” particularly when a recent poll showed that only 41% of Millennials say they are “absolutely certain” to vote.
For Donald Trump, Brexit played perfectly into his hands and it has created fear in Hillary Clinton and Democrats alike. Why? Because it is an example of what could happen in the 2016 general election. So if you’re a millennial and ever find yourself thinking there is no point in voting, or “the next president of the United States will not impact my life” just remember, British Millennials thought the same thing. Now they are on track to be the first generation EVER to record lower lifetime earnings than their parents, thanks to Brexit. Just let that sink in.