The widespread horror over the scatterbrained Donald Trump’s elevation to the presidency inevitably brings a Churchill quote to mind.
Not that well-worn aperçu “Democracy is the worst form of government except for the others”. Although arguably true, it’s not a sentiment that matches the worldwide despair about what the voters have done. Democracy, at least of the American kind, does feel like a pretty poor form of government today.
No, the epigram we’re thinking of is Churchill’s more brutal “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”
It is, of course, a snide and elitist comment which any Trump supporter would have no difficulty trashing as arrogant and insulting to the ordinary man and woman. And yet, and yet . . .
Ask yourself if more than a single one of Trump’s indiscretions would be needed to rule out a British MP from running for office – if not to ruin his/her career for ever.
- Sexual grossness, including an expressed desire to grope members of the opposite sex
- Overt racism, with a threat to expel millions of immigrants and block entry to the country for muslims
- The ridiculing of a disabled reporter, mimicking his extravagant gestures and speech patterns
- Threats of violence, suggesting that the gun lobby could deal with his opponent
- Financial impropriety, refusing to show his tax returns and thinking it ‘smart’ to avoid paying tax
- The repeating of lies over and over again, however much the evidence was adduced to show that they were lies
And yet, and yet . . . despite the fact that Trump displayed these ‘weaknesses’ in full view over the months and years, 48 per cent of American voters queued to sign up for this bigoted, know-nothing flat-earther (or, to be more accurate, climate change denier). That’s roughly, by coincidence, the percentage advantage our Brexiteers had over the Remainers.
What would Churchill have said about them? We suspect that he’d have lumped the Trumpists and the Brexiteers together – and opined briskly that a five-minute conversation with them was much longer than he needed.