I’m young, I’m not a racist, and I still voted for Brexit
By voting to leave, we’ve achieved something for society and democracy
It shows just how far gone public discourse in this country is when I have to make it clear from the start that despite backing Brexit I am, unsurprisingly, not a racist.
Yes, as Will Self said, not all Brexiters are racists, but almost all racists will be voting for Brexit. This means that there are a number of meaningful reasons, lacking bigotry, of why I voted to leave the European Union on Thursday. Reasons that have been buried by the outpouring of ‘feeling disappointed’ Facebook statuses of people who can’t believe that someone could possibly hold a different opinion to them.
One of the most popular issues that Brexiters have with the EU is that it is an undemocratic and anti-democratic institution. The EU commission is not democratically elected by the people it governs, and the way that the EU has treated Greek democracy in the past few years would have the Athenians rolling around in their tombs pulling their hair out.
Many people would rebuff this point, saying that we have the House of Lords which is arguably more undemocratic than the EU. Unfortunately, a vote on membership of the House of Lords was not included in the small print of the EU referendum. Having a plethora of unelected and largely unaccountable politicians hanging over our heads is an unsettling prospect, I voted to start chipping away at this faceless authority bit by bit.
A very legitimate worry of those who voted remain was that a vote for leave would hand power over to the more dubious and dangerous elements of the Conservative party. Better the devil you know is the regurgitated phrase that is supposed to win any argument on the matter. Perhaps the error of my youthful outlook is that it is one filled with optimism and hope. That even if society suffers for the next couple of years as the fallout from the referendum result takes effect, I believe that by distancing ourselves from the EU we can guarantee and work towards a more prosperous, democratic and fairer world for our children’s children, through more progressive and meaningful social, economic, political and environmental policy that will cater for the demands of the future.
While many people are understandably worried about the economic implications of this vote, it pales in comparison to what we have achieved for democracy and society. Some things are more important than extra money in your pocket.
I am, admittedly, unlikely to feel the worst of any economic shocks that occur as a result of Brexit. As always, the poorest will be hit hardest by any economic downturns. However, what did the poorest have before Brexit? Food banks, zero-hour contracts, ever-increasing inequality, the list goes on. Those who voted to remain voted to reinforce a status quo that allows the poorest to go on living in a system that is weighted to benefit the already well off. I voted along with 17 million other Brits who also wanted to stick two fingers up to the politicians and business leaders who implored us to vote for a system that they couldn’t understand anyone not wanting to live in.
The vote has highlighted just how disenfranchised people are with the current socio-economic status quo and that should be what people are shouting loudest about in the aftermath of this referendum, not giving in to the politics of fear, individualism and selfishness is something that we all have to strive towards now, regardless of which side you were on. We will move on from this divisive issue knowing that the next fights include protecting our public services, a fight more conducive to putting up a united front – fighting to protect the most disenfranchised in our society from whichever public school boy in a suit we get next as PM who will now be well aware that the people have had enough. Apathy is retreating, but with still just only just over a third of young people voting in the referendum, there is some way to go before our collective voice is heard in its full might and variety of what we have to say.
I find it bizarre to settle for a world that is so clearly imperfect and not to dream big of what we could accomplish.
Uncertainty is scary but also exciting when you think about the potential possibilities that the future holds. Have hope.