Farage leads a democratic revolution

Today the European Parliament elections will take place in Great Britain. The Brexit Party, which seeks a clean departure from the European Union (EU), is leading in the polls — by a large margin.

Brexit was originally meant to occur March 29, 2019, three years after the people of Great Britain voted to leave. However, Britain’s politicians failed to deliver an exit from the European Union as they promised. The British political class chose not to follow the will of the people, the voters were betrayed, and thus, trust was broken.

Now, Nigel Farage is leading a democratic revolution as head of the weeks-old Brexit Party.

As a result, a populist surge is ensuing across the United Kingdom (UK). The Brexit Party is presently polling higher than both the Conservative and Labor parties combined.

Believing that the current two-party stronghold comprises career politicians, Farage says they seek only to keep their jobs and lack a genuine connection with the voters who elected them. The political establishment has not accepted the results of the Brexit referendum and thus far has overturned a fundamental democratic process.

Farage’s strategy is to campaign at the grassroots level and elect people into the EU Parliament who respect the British public’s Brexit vote. He emphasizes the Brexit Party is about delivering democracy to the citizens of Great Britain.

Brexit Party critics assert its members are xenophobic due to their stance on immigration. However, the truth is that the party is not anti-immigration at all. Rather, they believe British laws, including those on immigration, should be made in Britain by the people — not by distant EU bureaucrats. Brexiteers want to live in a nationally sovereign country and maintain control of their own borders.

Interestingly, the candidates running for the European Parliament from the Brexit Party are from very diverse walks of life. Those on the ticket vary by social class, race, religion, age, and occupational background. Most of those running are ordinary people with average jobs who think that common citizens deserve to be heard.

The Brexit movement, incredibly, has brought together those on the left and right of the political continuum. Some of the Brexit Party candidates actually voted three years ago to remain in the European Union.

However, after witnessing the obstruction of democracy, they chose to run on the Brexit ticket. Candidates like Claire Fox, who is from the far left and would not ordinarily agree on issues with Farage, feel that democracy must be delivered to the people of Great Britain.

When the idea of the European Union was first presented to the British people, they were promised that it would only be an economic union, promoting free trade and free travel. Today, it has grown into a mammoth political union, and Farage argues, this is not what the people of Great Britain want for their country.

Those who seek to remain in the EU, and side with the establishment politicians, claim that the Brexiteers are racist, stupid, low-information voters who need a political elite to make decisions for them. When have we heard this before? The same sort of rhetoric was used to describe the populace in Middle America when Trump was running for president.

Farage wants to change British politics radically by breaking the two-party system. He seeks a fundamental transformation of British politics through the Brexit Party winning in the EU Parliamentary elections. He states, “We are a democratic nation,” and further declares that Brexit is “the most important constitutional question we have faced in this country for 300 years; are we to be a self-governing nation or not?”

The Brexit Party campaign has significant momentum, and if the polls mean anything, the party will do very well on Thursday. They have a commanding lead and continue to grow supporters by the week. The Brexit Party has become more than a protest party and will also likely expand with the general elections.

Farage undoubtedly shifted the political debate in mainstream politics as the chief architect who originally led the Brexit campaign in 2016. Many believe it was Farage’s success with growing the populist movement that eventually spread to the United States and assisted President Trump in getting elected.

Will a significant victory of the Brexit Party be a bellwether for grassroots movements in countries around the world?

It will be interesting to see what impact the EU elections have on the 2020 US Presidential race. If the populist movement continues to succeed in Great Britain, Americans might once again decide to join in on the fight against the political establishment, and once again elect a populist president.

Dr. Kimberly Johnson is a professor of sociology at Lock Haven University. Email her at kaj2955@lockhaven.edu