Britain scoffed at the thought that Donald Trump could ever be a serious Republican candidate for President of the United States. And it felt that never in a million years would the United Kingdom do something equally, in many people’s minds, odd.
Yet, here stands Britain, having decided to eject itself out of a peaceful and prosperous club, with an unelected Prime Minister and a seriously gaff prone foreign secretary. Perhaps it is now time to look at Mr Trump with a more serious light as to why he is so successful in the race and why the UK should stop sneering and start learning from the man.
Donald Trump is many things. To the liberal East and West coast American, and to the majority of Europeans he is a distasteful anathema – a throwback to Neanderthal capitalism and politics where half truth, mistruth and outright lies can develop a truth of themselves. In equal measure at different times he is seen as a racist, a parody, a comedy figure, a threat, an angry old man, a simpleton and a silly head of hair.
Yet, for all this, Mr Trump is extremely popular and so many in political circles in Europe still cannot understand this.
And herein lies the problem. The more elite of society in Europe just don’t get it. They have opinions based on what is said on Twitter and Facebook, in the Guardian or on their personal observations when they have been on holiday to America.
Yet, the America that loves Mr Trump habits very different places. They sure as hell don’t use Twitter unless they have to and their Facebook pages will remain private with their friends – none of whom have ever met a European. And as for the America they live in? Well, it isn’t Disneyland, New York, Chicago, LA or Las Vegas.
The America of Trump is one that is in the middle – where foreigners – including overseas journalists – don’t venture. Their world is one of the harsh realities of global capitalism and all it stands for and has left a swathe of the US in decline. Primary and secondary industries have become increasingly threatened by mechanisation and cheaper labour being smuggled across the border or working for multinationals for less halfway across the globe. It is one where the only radio station is a Christian one preaching 24/7 about the love of Jesus, the loathing of abortion and the necessity of guns.
And more importantly, for people who are more often than not, relatively poorly educated, Mr Trump and his rhetoric resonates in a way that high faluting corporate party machine speak just can’t. And he does it using 140 characters in a way that makes waves and causes storms and generates cut through in a way other politicians could only dream of. For while Europeans would generally consider his pronouncements too simple in a complex world, for these Americans this offering has a massive appeal. Right, wrong; good, evil; black, white; fight, flight; America, everyone else – these binary options offer choices his supporters can easily grasp. No shades of grey, no maybe’s, perhaps or could be’s and he talks their language.
The certainty in his pronouncements provides a comfort blanket for those looking for solace in a turbulent and confusing world that has left them poorer and isolated. Make America Great Again feels right. America was great. It now isn’t because we have been too soft and too liberal. Mr Trump will fix this. Job done.
It is also a world in which white men are still the best men and the American civil war and the abolition of slavery was the moment when America became less great. It is a place where racism is still endemic, where you can buy t-shirts asking people to ‘vote for coal, because that’s black too‘ and where women still know their place.
And when the opposition is now a 35 year political professional who risked American security by sending emails on unsecured servers. Worse still, they give speeches for huge amounts of cash to banks and they were married to the most hated Liberal President ever. And, she is a woman.
The combination of simple explanations of how to fix the problem combined with an opposition that is absolutely hated by vast swathes of the population equals a real chance for Mr Trump, against all the odds, to become the next President of America.
When Marie Le Pen is on the march, Farage and his team won the referendum and Putin is idolised it would be no great leap of faith to believe that there will be at least four years of trying to Make America Great Again.