An Open Letter From a Brexit-broken Brit to a Trump-trashed America

Sorry.

It doesn’t cut it, I know. But I know it’s what I wanted to hear waking up on June 24th after Brexit. They’re going to gloat – the racists and the isolationists and the misogynists. And you’re going to have to deal with weeks of “get over it”. So, passionately, from this side of the Atlantic to that side: sorry.

Sorry about the pride you’ve probably lost in your nation. A lot of young people don’t really feel patriotic because we were born and raised in an era where geographical borders never stood as the same barriers that they once did. But the sense of pride you’ve probably felt seeping away from you is a tangible thing to lose; from what we can tell in the UK, it scars and the sense of loss sticks around. It’s an awful feeling.

Sorry about the way the next month or so is going to play out. If it’s anything like it was here, the right will see a resurgence, racists will be emboldened, the economy will shake then stabilise in anticipation of further shocks to come. Sorry about the division that now exists in your country, and sorry that the people who won aren’t going to care much for sewing it back together. It’s going to be a rough few weeks. It’s time to buckle up and get out your coping mechanisms.

You will walk down the street and rightly wonder which 52% of people thought it was a good idea to put this lunatic in the White House. The people who did vote for him will largely be oblivious, ecstatic and insufferable.

Sorry for the long-term damage that it will cause. When all’s said and done, things will settle down, Trump will surround himself with people who actually have some faint clue what they’re doing, and get on, sort of, maybe, with running the country, in between opening hotels and grabbing women by the pussy. And there will be difficult times ahead with abortion, gay rights, immigration, trade and foreign policy. The rest of us get to look forward to those last two alongside you.

Sorry. On so many levels. I wish there were a solution to any of these things, but we didn’t find one, and I’m not sure you will either. It sucks to be that blunt about things. In all likelihood, there will be a President Trump. The next 4-6 weeks will be nigh-on impossible. The agenda will lurch towards the right. It will hurt, both personally and socially. And the only thing to do while it happens is stick together.

Stick together. You’re going to need all the support you can get to remind you that only just over half of the country felt compelled to elect a man who bragged about sexually assaulting women to the highest office in your country. “Only” just over half may sound glib, but in the next few weeks it’s going to feel at times like everyone except you ticked the Trump box. So make sure you surround yourself with enough people who remind you that fear and bigotry may have won this time but won’t always. Make sure you find ways to support other people and be supported by them.

Make sure you find the energy to keep fighting. It’s shattering. In the aftermath of Brexit, I declared myself done with politics, done with the UK, done with swathes of its population. I’m still jaded. I’m still shattered and exhausted by it all. But the one thing that does wear off given time is the tiredness. Give yourself some downtime. Get through the next couple of weeks. And then something will catch your eye and you’ll get angry again. It’ll be a painful process to navigate, but you don’t have an option, because you’re good people. Eventually you’ll clench your fists again, even if right now you only feel like sleeping for weeks.

Ultimately, the world carries on. It’ll look darker, dumber, dimmer, harsher, and more difficult than before. It’ll change the way you look at people and the way you think about “community” and other abstract concepts. It’ll change a lot beyond that. And so I don’t mean to be dismissive when I say that the world will continue to turn and you need to find comfort in the good people you know and love. It’s just the only thing worth learning that British progressives have had going for them in the 5 months since Brexit. I hope it’s enough to cling to while you work this shit out.

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