In the aftermath of the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union, the media has pushed hard at the narrative that the same anger and frustration about foreigners that fueled that vote could be a sign that the candidacy of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump could ultimately succeed. In an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep that was apparently filmed by a myopic film studies undergrad, President Obama attempted to allay some of those fears by acknowledging some of the similarities between Britain and the United States, but also some key differences. He also took square aim at Trump as working-class messiah:
Mr. Trump embodies global elites and has taken full advantage of it his entire life. So, he’s hardly a spokesperson — a legitimate spokesperson — for a populist surge of working-class people on either side of the Atlantic. I think that some of the concerns around immigration, some of the concerns around a loss of control, or a loss of national identity, those are similar. I think there is a xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment that’s flashing up, not just in Great Britain but throughout Europe, that has some parallels with what Mr. Trump has been trying to stir up here.
Having said all that, the U.S. economy has not only recovered, we’re about ten percent larger than we were, pre-crisis.
The President also made the strong case that everything will be okay because of Norway:
“Keep in mind that Norway is not a member of the European Union, but Norway is one of our closest allies,” Obama added. “They align themselves on almost every issue with Europe and us. They are a place that is continually supporting the kinds of initiatives internationally that we support, and, if over the course of what is going to be at least a two-year negotiation between England and Europe, Great Britain ends up being affiliated to Europe like Norway is, the average person is not going to notice a big change.”
Whether you’re panicked or pleased with the possibility that Brexit could be a harbinger of a Trump win, the President’s assessment probably hasn’t made you feel better already.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.