Opinion: United but divided

Opinion: United but divided

Kenna Howorth, Staff Reporter

I am from two incredibly divided countries: the United Kingdom and the United States of America. In 2016, I have seen parallels in both governments and elections that cannot be dismissed.

‘Brexit’ is a shorthand term to describe the United Kingdom leaving the European Union (EU). A referendum was held, in which 52% of citizens wanted to leave and 48% voted to remain.

When I found out the UK was leaving the EU, I was devastated. My mother, who lived the majority of her life in England, didn’t bat an eye. Why did she seem so detached when I had never been more attentive to politics?

This shocked and puzzled me until I discovered that 56% percent of people her age voted to leave, wherein my generation, only 27% cast their ballot to exit. I realized that people of her age and older were so ready for this new change because they wouldn’t have to deal with the consequences.

Many had been lied to by the UK Independence Party (UKIP) leaders. One prominent leader being Nigel Farage, who backtracked on his word that the 350 million pounds that were weekly sent to the EU would go to the National Health Service.

This echoed Donald Trump’s false promises to build a wall along the border, put Hillary Clinton in jail, and discontinue the immigration of Muslims into the United States. Both leaders had been openly xenophobic, racist, sexist, homophobic, and more and yet people still had utter faith in them.

I was angered by this, and took to social media to let out my frustration. Many of my peers seemed convinced I was overreacting and this turning point didn’t directly affect me. Feeling helpless and misunderstood, I thought to myself how they would behave if something as detrimental happened in America.

Sure enough, when Hillary’s downfall was announced, shrieks of tyranny and inequality were heard from across the Internet. The popular vote–the voters that would be affected the most–lost.

After Trump’s victory, many people reveled in his success and saw it as validation for loving a system and administration that actively discriminates. People I love and trust were flying their flags with grins and posting on Facebook about their faith in our country being restored.

The only thing restored for me was the feelings of horror, confusion, sadness, and betrayal that I felt in June.

I am in shock that my neighbors, who told me I could do anything, were holding up the glass ceiling. That people I used to call my best friends saw the most repulsive politician leaving office to make room for the classiest and best man, when I saw the opposite. My own flesh and blood seeing this is an act of patriotism and simply ‘taking back their country’, when I know the only thing we are taking back is hate and fear. The hypocrisy and parallels are blinding between the two countries.

I pledged my allegiance to two countries every day, and both of them failed me with their politics. I have witnessed Britain stop being Great and the States turn from United to hate. I may not have a vote in my countries but I am still fighting. I will take this pain and remember how it stings. I will take this fire I feel for equality and let it fuel me. I trust that when it’s my turn to vote, for a referendum or leader, my generation will not let another prejudiced and bad intentioned leader change our progressive mentality. We can still take back my country. Both of them.