I pretty much abandoned this blog two years ago, call it word fatigue (I spend my day talking and writing for others) or laziness or whatever you like. The bottom line is, I’m a bad blogger. When I feel compelled to “sound off” on something, I usually take to my Facebook wall or confine myself to the blessedly brief 140-character domain of Twitter. Lately I’ve even started letting the picture do the talking (they are, after all, supposedly each worth a 1000 words) on Instagram. I’m certainly rarely at a loss for words, and I’m definitely not shy about expressing an opinion, but lately world events – political world events – have left me too numb, and more than a little depressed if I’m honest, to express myself.
Someone pointed out to me today that there are just 50 days left to 2016. I for one can’t wait for this year to be over. What was that term Her Majesty used back in 1992…annus horribilis? Yes, that about sums up a year which has seen me on the losing voter side of the EU referendum and the US Presidential election. The result is that I currently feel a little bit like a woman without a country; a refugee in Canada maintaining a ‘business visitor’ status.
The results of Tuesday night’s election, as with those of the June 23rd ref, have left me shaken, bewildered and infuriated. And like everybody else, I’m looking to blame someone.
In the UK, do I blame corrupt campaigners and a manipulative mainstream media more interested in hyperbolic headlines than real journalism? Or do I blame the very fact that a nonbinding, glorified ‘opinion poll’ was ever left in the hands of voters, half of whom didn’t really understand what it was they were voting for, and the other half – Remainers and Leavers alike – who voted based primarily on what was in their own self-interest (myself included), not the country’s, in the first place?
In the US, do I blame the 53% of white women who basically subjugated their reproductive rights (the suffragettes must be spinning in their graves) to men? Or the minority and blue collar voters who believe that a man who has taken little interest in their lives in all his 70 years on this earth is suddenly going to make fighting for them a priority in the next four? And why in heaven’s name is an arcane electoral body conceived in 1787 still determining the Presidency 229 years later?
I do absolutely blame those who threw away the right to have their voices heard. In the UK, 12,947,554 who registered for the referendum failed to cast a vote, despite being offered several easy voting options. In the US, the figures are even worse. Estimates show that only 200 million of the roughly 231 million eligible voters actually registered, and then 46.9% of them failed to vote! What a sad commentary it is that we live in a society where more people will vote for finalists in dancing and singing competitions than will vote for their countries’ leaders and key issues. To quote Hillary Clinton, it’s deplorable.
But my fury and indignation at that pales in comparison to my shock, sadness and cold sweat fear at the level of bigotry, sexism and overt racism dressed as ‘traditional values’ and ‘patriotic pride’ that this referendum and Presidential election have unearthed. The group claiming to advocate for human rights and religious freedoms of people, but only if those people have a pigment of skin, cultural background, sexual orientation or religious affiliation they deem “acceptable” i.e. they’re own. And the group who claim to have been somehow disadvantaged or marginalized by immigration because blaming their lack of success and general dissatisfaction in life on foreigners is easier than examining their own lack of education, drive and initiative. The decisions made yesterday and in June have given enormous life-destroying power to these groups. The UK and US have made themselves laughing stocks on the global stage. They have wounded themselves socially and economically, and like sharks smelling blood in the water, other countries will look to see how that self-inflicted weakness can be exploited.
Which is why, and it pains me to say this truly, we have got to get over and get on with it. While I totally sympathize with the need to rail against the idiocy of Brexit and President-elect Trump, we have got to rally and make the best of this situation. Because, we can pout and protest, but come January 20, 2017, Donald Trump will be moving into the White House. And barring a successful snap election coup, Theresa May is going to invoke Article 50 in March.
The fact is, we cannot merely sit back and wait for the doomsayer predictions to come true just so we can smugly say, “I told you so!” Our socioeconomic survival, and that of our family and friends, and that of millions of people we’ve never met depends on making the best of a bad situation. And if we become blinded by rage or paralyzed by despair we will be playing right into the hands of those who seek to silence and control us. What can you do?
Engage with your MP, MEP, Senator or Congressman/woman – it’s amazing how many people don’t even know their representatives names.
Continue to push for social and voting reform.
Step away from the keyboard. Don’t be baited into useless social media arguments. Remember what Winston Churchill said, “Never engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed man.”
Don’t lose hope, don’t give in to hate, never stop talking and KEEP VOTING!