Whatever the reasons for Trump's election or Brexit, the similarities in the way these two events have been running is just too much to ignore. To say that these concurrent events caused each other would be wrong in my opinion. After all, David Cameron was under pressure for years to allow a referendum on European membership and after a black Democratic ruler under a Republican Congress, push-back was inevitable.
That said, the way in which these two events have played out and fed off each other is far too similar to simply call it coincidence. Both countries are at the very top of democracy as defined by the world, both have similar voting systems in that they do not include proportional representation, and are among the oldest on the planet. Both hold the will of the people as being supreme, both came about due to democratic votes, both then proceeded to ignore popular opinion in favour of their own individual agendas. Both rule on the back of the original vote, both claim to be the will of the people, both cause misery to both sides, their own and the opposition, both cause misery to the outside world.
At this point we would do well to introduce the word 'populism'. Defined as ' the quality of appealing to or being aimed at ordinary people,' one has to wonder exactly what percentage of these 'ordinary people' today are still die hard fans of Trumpism and Brexitism. One of their similarities is the way in which both parties have had a go at undermining a key pillar of democracy (in the name of democracy), the Judiciary. In the US, the senate managed to hold up the appointment of the 7th member of the supreme court for over a year to get there own member elected, and in the UK, every time the Supreme court found against the government they were accused of treason and being anti-democratic.
So what benefits has this 'populist' version of democracy brought to the table of world events? Throughout history mankind has a way of introducing new ideas and modifying them before reapplication after they have failed. Ever since the independence of the American colonies and the French revolution, the world has been looking for alternative, better ways to govern society. In this endeavour we have fluctuated from complete equality under communism, to 'so-called' complete democracy in 'first-past the post' and popular representation. A few regimes have been mostly eradicated, royalty and aristocracy but still reign supreme in some countries like Saudi Arabia. In some countries they have been modified into constitutional monarchies.
Even our dictatorships have been modified. They no longer rule their people by huge armies and the sword. They keep a large part sweet by favoring them, and doing as much popular good as they can given the size of their wallets. Some have succeeded as in China, India and even Russia. Some have not as in any of the smaller failed states.
To me, Trumpism and Brexitism are the ultimate tests for democracy as we know it. Whatever the outcome, one has to consider whether being taken to the brink of war as in the case of North Korea, or the brink of economic disaster as in the case of trade warfare, and being dangled over the edge; is a price worth paying in the name of democracy. To me, as long a democracy is as undefined and wide-ranging in meaning as it is today; it is as much a part of the problem as it is the solution.
We believe that democratic opinion (voting) is the ultimate test. But should morality be included in the vote? Should emotion-based decisions such as war be decided by popular vote? Do future generations as yet unborn have any right at all to an opinion as in the case of climate change and pollution?
We believe in freedom of the press, but should fake truth, lies, innuendo be allowed? Should we allow the lie to be printed on page 1 in huge capitals while the withdrawal apology is relegated to page 7 at the bottom in tiny font? The way in which the social media are coming under scrutiny today is an indication of the complexity but also the importance of this issue.
We believe in freedom of speech.But should there be a limit? Does a person shouting 'FIRE' in a crowded cinema causing a stampede that gets people killed bear any responsibility and if so how much? Should a person suggesting the assassination of another be considered free speech?
Agatha Christie thought she had the answer. In her final Poirot novel, 'CURTAIN', first published in 1975 but written over thirty years earlier during world war II, Poirot; on realizing that the instigator, a man that influenced his victims into murder would get away with it, assassinated the man himself and made it look like suicide.
Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen. Democracy is more than it seems, and only you can decide its future. The last time it was tried, in Ancient Greece it was shelved for two thousand years. So now what?