It was suggested that Donald Trump should be treated like a two year old toddler whose bad behaviour could be controlled with “twitter time-out” and a naughty corner so that he could be free to howl for forty minutes before being let loose in public or allowed to climb a podium and give a speech. Or, as P.J. O’Rourke suggested in The Daily Beast last week, Like a toddler in a home with a loaded handgun, sooner or later Donald will find the briefcase with the nuclear launch codes. Better set the combination lock code to “411” before he does—he’ll never think of that. Donald hates information.
Amusing though the analogy to a toddler is, to my mind, a far more appropriate comparison in the growth of the Trumpesque politician (of which 80% of the Brexiteers can be lumped), is that they are suffering less from a case of toddlerism and more from a sever case of teenagitis. Like Vicky Pollard from the sit-com Little Britain this brand of politician answers tricky questions regarding what alternative model to the EU they envision with a “yeah but no but – it’s all the EU’s fault innit”. For such politicians an EU Directive, Regulation, or court case, like Kevin the Teenager’s parents, are just:
“…. sooo BORING!”
…therefore it must get out of their lives as quickly as possible.
Remember those dreadful teenage years between the age of, say, 12 and 16? Are you hugely relieved that those years are long in the past? Even happier that you were not a teenager in the age of FB, Instagram or Twitter? Comforted that you did not have to forge your fragile, emerging, easily crushed identity in the glare of social media where every mistake, mishap or achievement could be picked to pieces in an on-line forum by your brutal peers facing the same insecurities as you? All I can say is that we few, we happy few, who came of age long before that geeky nerd Zuckerberg penned his first code had it easy in comparison to today’s teenagers.
Back in the day it was bad enough knowing that your “Frenemy” received 24 Christmas cards to your three or at that your B.F.F. was the recipient of 15 valentine cards to your, err, none. Today’s teenagers, the poor buggers, have to contend with on-line ratings, the number of followers they can muster and how many likes they can squeeze out of a selfie taken in front of a mirror- all year round and not just at Christmas. Today’s popular Petronella or the dude Dudley can boast thousands of likes or followers no matter how inane or boring a vlogger they are. So too the modern Trumpesque politician. In the same way that a modern teenager believes their value is dependant on the amount of followers or likes they can garner so too the modern politician in the mould of Mr Donald Trump who is quite convinced that a retweet is sweeter than a democratic vote cast on polling day. It helps of course that twitter allows you to compose short soundbites such as: “I HATE YOU” “YOU’RE SO UNFAIR” “HYPROCRITE” or “GO AWAY AND DIE”.
While we’re on the subject of those awkward years some of you may also recall the sheer outrage you felt when a figure of authority asked you to pick up a damp towel and hang it up? Do you remember that feeling of “I can’t be bothered. Damp towels are of no concern to me what so ever. Why ever should I?” Or the utter irritation at an establishment figure who demanded you throw crisp packets away rather than allow them to accumulate around the sofa, do some home-work, put shoes in the cupboard, be back on time from your Frenemy’s all important birthday party, do the dishes etc. etc? All these annoying, useless, petty rules that were designed to make your life deliberately unpleasant. Worse still these evil figures might actually threaten to sanction your behaviour by removing funds or grounding you for a week – to which all you really wanted to say in as nonchalant and arrogant voice as you could muster was:
I. DON’T. CARE!
Man, back in the day, how the establishment drove you crazy with their interferring ways and petty rules. It really made you want to show the middle finger to all those irritating figures of authority telling you how to live your life. If only it were possible to sweep them aside with a waft of the hand. You would then be well positioned to mould a new world order and refashion your sovereign, personal space in your own best interests. All outside concerns be damned. You would pull up the draw-bridge, baton down the hatches, build a huge wall around your comfort zone thus preventing any chance of anyone intruding in your personal space where you could be the sovereign, independent master of your very own teenage dump – damp towels, unchanged sheets and chocolate wrappers included.
In this fantasy world there would be no annoying rules to interfere with your pursuit of personal freedom, individual happiness or desire for extreme privacy and comfort. The new system would never require you to think about “responsibility” or “duty” or home-work, deadlines or respecting your elders. This way you would be free to space-out on your unmade bed in front of a screen and chat for hours with your B.F.F. for as long as you damn well pleased, play minecraft all day if you so choose or watch your favourite vlogger play Super Mario until dawn. You would be sovereign of your own castle and the outside world knocking on your door could just, well :
GO. TO. HELL!
Not all of you may have felt like that. A lot of us did. Then we grew up. We got married or formed relationships. We had kids. Or our siblings did. Or our friends did. We got jobs. Our world view shifted. We discovered that engaging with the outside world was actually more interesting then being left moribund in our bedroom. That we were more valued when we learned to muck in cheerfully as opposed to fighting every last bent banana until they were curved again. In fact we had more free time to pursue our own interests if we conceded a point now and then rather than venting a spleen over the imposition of straight cucumbers on our sandwiches.
We discovered we enjoyed realities other than those afforded by the four walls of our bedroom or the four corners of an electronic screen. That damp towel lying on the floor grew smelly. The stock of prawn cocktail crisps ran out. Funds to replenish said crisps had to be renegotiated outside of our sovereign bedroom. After a while we began to realise that our Frenemy is just boring, that the vlogger is full of hot air and that your B.F.F. moved on years ago and is now a well regarded member of the establishment. We are still critical of the establishment and do not assume that the figure of authority is always right but we have learned that to engage is the best path to change or getting our own way than to smash the system and hide behind a wall of verbosity, name calling and blaming a fictional “other” for all our discomforts.
The clear message of the Brexiteers to the undecided voter is that they should trust them to create a sovereign space where the British voter can do what they want, when they want, shut out the other and still have access to the equivalent of prawn cocktail chips and an unlimited supply of clean towels. A glorious future – free from petty, interfering regulations. Free from all immigration. Free from the shackles of an imaginary empire. Like a teenager slamming the door shut they do not have the foggiest idea about how exactly they are going to build their new utopia. The problem of immigration will not magically disappear once Britain has left the EU anymore than the damp towel is going to grow legs and climb into a washing machine. The EU is about as likely to give Britain a favourable trade deal post Brexit as is anyone whose just been described as little better than:
In short, what the Brexiteer is asking of you, the undecided voter, is to trust them. They are asking you to vote with your heart and free yourselves from some fictional, imposing empire crushing your soul. In reality, the EU is about as evil an empire as are Kevin the Teenagers parents. Yet, the Brexiteers are asking you to vote with your heart and have the courage to smash the system without telling you how it can be rebuilt. I agree that the undecided voter should vote with their hearts because in their heart of hearts they know that to leave the EU would be the equivalent to being left moribund in an unaired teen-age bedroom with the shutters firmly shut. To Vote Leave would be the equivalent of putting your faith in the likes of Kevin the Teenager who morphes into a bolshy, irrational teenager on the stroke of midnight.
If you truly value your freedom, if you truly value being sovereign within a community and if you believe in engaging with the outside world in order to offer reasoned arguments for reform, if you want to open the shutters wide and find common solutions to common problems then you should vote to Remain on 23 June 2016. In short, if you do not want Great Britain to turn, at the stroke of midnight, into Kevin the Teenager then you should vote to Remain on 23 June 2016.