Brexit Should Have Told Us This Was Coming

Demonstrators supporting a British departure from the European Union, in London, June 15, 2016. Although referendums such as Brexit, the rejection of a peace deal in Colombia and the support of a democracy-curtailing constitution in Thailand are portrayed as governance in its purest form, studies have found that they often subvert democracy rather than serve it. (Photo: Adam Ferguson / The New York Times)Demonstrators supporting a British departure from the European Union, in London, June 15, 2016. Although referendums such as Brexit, the rejection of a peace deal in Colombia and the support of a democracy-curtailing constitution in Thailand are portrayed as governance in its purest form, studies have found that they often subvert democracy rather than serve it. (Photo: Adam Ferguson / The New York Times)

Like virtually all progressive and left/ social justice-oriented folks, I sit in shell shock at the election results. There are many “technical” explanations — disenfranchisement, the existence of a horrifically undemocratic electoral college, Comey’s intervention on the emails and more. But these are sideshows. What is central is the race/class/gender/ethnic paradigm that has dominated left and progressive thinking for decades.

People on the left must face the fact that white people — including the white middle class, the white working class and rich white people — made this happen. This is a vote driven by white supremacist consciousness, a mentality that places the decline in the living standards of “middle-class” white people as primary, as more central and a more crucial blow against humanity than all the racialized attacks and policies that target Black, Brown and Native American folks and drag many poor whites into the penitentiaries, into the ranks of the homeless and into self-medication.

I can begin with the obvious: The mainstream media was key to this outcome. The monopolies that run major networks were willing to chase sensational stories, willing to give voter fraud more attention than disenfranchisement, willing to frame fascism as quaint, entertaining and not really anything to worry about. The wall, the banning of Muslims, the mocking of the disabled and LGBTQ folks became “entertainment.” In the name of “covering” the story of Donald Trump, mainstream media became complicit in the dehumanization of people of color, the exaltation of climate change…

Read more