The obsession with protesting Trump
The professionally outraged of the UK were wrong-footed this week, following news that Donald Trump might make a flying visit to the UK to dodge the protests that activists had promised would greet him. Trump, ever the sensitive soul, has already mooted a full state visit due to the less-than-warm welcome he is sure to get.
That this move so upset protesters speaks to the strange obsession with Trump. If he did come, the protest would no doubt draw large crowds – larger than any recent demonstration against any genuine despot. Many claim that they hate Trump because of his misogyny or ‘Islamophobia’. But these are only covers for the real reason.
In truth, what upsets them is a vote not going their way. Fear and loathing of the demos has defined many protests of late. When Britain voted to leave the European Union last year, it was the biggest democratic revolt for decades. The fact that the result sparked huge pro-EU protests, which were nowhere to be seen before the vote, tells us something.
For anti-democrats, Trump is the ultimate vindication – a democratic outcome even worse than Brexit. For them, he’s the inevitable, proto-fascist result of letting people have their say at the ballot box. Hence the obsession with protesting him, while waving ‘Trump is a nazi’ placards. What these people really fear is democracy, and the electorates it threatens to empower.
Activists have been quick to point out that the right to protest is a cornerstone of democracy. And they’re right. But just as they are free to demonstrate, we are free to point out that what they’re really demonstrating is a contempt for voters. These protesters are posing as the champions of the people while painting electorates who dare defy them as fascists.
Like him or not, Donald Trump is a democratically elected head of state. Sure, he’s a man with unsavoury views, and his rhetoric divides his opinion. And yes, it’s entirely legitimate to register opposition to him. But protesters should ask themselves one question: is it really Trump they’re objecting to, or the ‘low-information’ voters who put him in office?
Benedict Spence is a writer based in London.