Fed up with establishment, masses pursue change

Monday, December 16th, 2019 00:00 | By
Britain’s Prime Minister and Conservative leader Boris Johnson arrives for a general election campagin visit to Furgusons Transport in Washington yesterday. Photo/AFP

The British people have spoken. Loud and clear. And they have given Boris Johnson clear mandate as prime minister to lead the country through the treacherous route out of the European Union, otherwise known as Brexit.

 It was an overwhelming victory for Johnson, one of the largest majorities ever in British politics. He can now push his agenda through Parliament with little opposition.

Indeed, the support for Johnson was so pervasive that seats which had never voted for his Conservative Party switched allegiances.

There is something fundamental taking place in the world. For too long, people have been feeling economically excluded and politically dis-empowered, fuelling sentiments of marginalisation and disconnection from the ruling elite. 

This might seem obvious in dictatorships, but democracies have finally ended up with the same malaise. Democracies have become victims of state capture, where elites have managed to put a stranglehold on structures that determine who becomes part of the power equation. 

In all these cases, the state has been corralled to serve the interests of these elites, mostly at complete divergence with those of the people.

The bottom line is that people have subsequently become poorer, even as wealth in their countries increases.

The economies of many countries have left large swathes of the population hopeless, with no future, and no prospects, even as they see a select few live in opulence on the other side of the proverbial fence.

The other dynamic driving this fundamental change is the youth. In many countries, there is a huge young population that has little respect for authority, having grown up on a menu of liberal ideas, a world interconnected by the internet, and a global view that shows them a better world is possible.

As a response, people in democracies are using their vote to express their displeasure. That is why an eccentric politician like Boris Johnson, who the entire British establishment has looked at aghast and derided at every opportunity, has been given an overwhelming vote of confidence by the people. It is a slap in the face of the establishment.

That is why Americans have Donald Trump as president. These mavericks, who stand for everything the establishment is not, resonate strongly with a populace that is looking for change—any change—from the status quo.

They are looking for leaders who are ready to do battle with the establishment. Leaders who talk their language  and engage them at their level.

The approach of these new age politicians is unorthodox, and they delight in disgusting the establishment by cocking a snoot at political correctness.

Political correctness is the straitjacket that the establishment globally has weaponised to whip everybody into linear thinking and closeted mindsets. Throwing insults at them only strengthens their anti-establishment credentials among the public.

These straight-shooting and unconventional politicians are becoming the new normal in the world.

And even where non-conformist politicians do not exist, people are ready to try anything new. In Finland, a 34-year old woman, Sanna Marin, was last week elected Prime Minister, and will oversee ministers who are even younger than her. Talk about upsetting the form book!

In autocratic states, where people do not have the benefit of a free ballot, the response of the people has been mass protests. People, tired of insular and repressive regimes, have taken to the streets in massive protests that are running into months.

From Algeria to Hong Kong, Chile to Iran, from Venezuela to Bolivia, people are massing in street protests, and many regimes are crumbing before this unstoppable force. 

The academia and the media have failed to see the wood for the trees. They have joined the establishment politicians and their supporting casts to disparage and insult the new kids on the block.

Academics, who should be studying this new phenomenon to assist countries navigate a new course, are busy shouting themselves hoarse as cheerleaders of the same elites. 

Governments need to recognise the deep-seated resentment taking hold globally, and take quick and radical action to stem the rising tides, before they become typhoons that sweep them into the sea. 

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