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We Can See Them Now, But Can We Hear Them?

14/11/2016 13:27

Without wanting to draw another needless parallel between the Trump victory and the UK EU Referendum result, or indeed rail against another monumental disaster for polling companies, we must ask ourselves why we didn't 'know' this was going to happen?

Some people did of course, my own dear mother did me the courtesy of texting me "I told you so" when the Trump result came in. But why do our political classes, media commentators, and indeed the middle-classes more widely, seem to be on a different wave length to the people who are delivering such 'disruptive', 'unpredictable' results?

I seem to remember that the received wisdom of globalisation and a richer western world was supposed to be the expansion of the middle-class and the proliferation of multi-cultural 'small l' liberal values? And it may still be true, but that seems to have come at the expense of any meaningful connection to those who are on the receiving end of globalisation and indeed an ignorance (often disdain) of the problems these communities face and the views they have.

Well, it turns out they're "as mad as hell" and they're not going to take it anymore. Why are people in the rust belt of America and the Northern heartlands of England shouting out "enough is enough", and, perhaps just as importantly, why didn't we hear them?

One only need look at the caterwauling on social media when the Referendum result came in, and the effigy burning protests currently taking place in the States for a clue. Many of the people sitting there with smart phones, laptops and iPads have the time to publish and promote their own thoughts. They have the time, the disposal income, and the inclination to espouse their 'l'iberal views and global outlook.

Should we be surprised that we didn't know how the 'silent majority' felt while we're 'checking-in' to restaurants on Facebook or visiting the latest pop up bar in Shoreditch. Perhaps not. People who are working every hour the day offers them don't have time to tweet. People languishing in unemployment or juggling caring responsibilities with work don't have many places to 'check-in' to. While they quietly seethe in front of the TV watching politicians ignore their problems is it any wonder they cross the box for change, whatever that change may be.

Indeed, when the media and commentariat are branding Trumpites and Brexiteers racists, fascists and reactionaries, why are we surprised they don't tell pollsters what they really think?

I realise that even the way I'm writing this piece perhaps perpetuates the us and them problem we face; but we cannot deny the disconnect. We can see them now, and they're 'taking back control'. Will we listen?

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