“We have a really good man who is going to be the prime minister of the UK, Boris Johnson,” Donald Trump enthused yesterday. “They call him Britain Trump.”
Now, nonsense manner of speech aside, this comparison between the two leaders has understandably been a popular subject recently. But how similar are they, really? Are we just lazily noting the ridiculous hair and buffoonish personas, without looking deeper below the surface? Let’s take a closer look at these two mold-breaking politicians, and check out whether the moniker of the ‘British Trump’ is a worthy one.
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Both Johnson and Trump are, first and foremost, showmen. They both rose to prominence on the back of TV appearances; Trump with The Apprentice and Johnson on the quiz show “Have I Got News for You.”
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Both of these charlatans also have a reputation for telling barefaced lies; Johnson has been sacked twice for dishonesty, while Trump’s misleading statements have journalists working 24/7 trying to set the record straight.
The stigma of dishonesty also surrounds their personal lives – both Trump and Johnson have been rumored to have had extra-marital affairs, as well as other sordid revelations around their private lives.
A large part of the popularity of these pair (to a certain demographic at least) is their straightforward, no-nonsense way of speaking. Both have made numerous offensive comments about minority groups, Johnson his referred to gay men as “bumboys,” Muslim women “letterboxes” and black Africans “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles.”
Trump famously dismissed many non-white nations as ‘shithole’ countries and has recently told American-born women of color to ‘go back’ to where he apparently feels that they actually belong.
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The pair have been largely responsible for re-normalizing divisive and hate-filled rhetoric in their respective countries, stoking fear and prejudice against the ‘other’ to appeal to frustrated voters looking for someone to blame for their discontent.
Not to mention their rejection of fact-based, scientific research in favor of conspiracy and outright lies. Johnson, formerly in favor of remaining in the EU, used the specter of Turkey’s imminent accession to the Union to whip up support for Brexit, warning of a flood of Syrian refugees. In reality, Turkey is nowhere near close to joining the EU.
Post-truth politics has entered the lexicon largely as a result of the popular appeal of these two sinister clowns, as they evoke a mythical past when everything was happier, richer, whiter and less PC.
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These leaders, both born into wealth and privilege, claim to represent the best interests of the common man. Trump inherited his wealth from his father, while Johnson is a product of the famous Eton College, which has been described as ‘the nursery of England’s gentlemen’ and has produced Five British Prime Ministers since 1945.
Why people struggling to make ends meet feel that these men, completely out of touch with the everyday reality of 99% of people, have their best interests at heart is a mystery that has yet to be solved.
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Yet there are also big differences between the pair; many feel that Johnson is actually much more liberal than his populist campaigning suggests and that he will switch back to a more centrist figure now that his ambition to become PM has been realized.
Trump, on the other hand, relies heavily on his base support and continues to push the envelope of acceptable behavior for a President, it seems that the more controversial he is, the more his supporters love him.
And while Johnson has a solid education and keen intellect beneath the bumbling persona, Trump is, well, pretty much as he appears on the surface.
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What do you think that the election of these two divisive figures tells us about the state of the U.S. and the UK, two supposedly powerful bastions of freedom, democracy and moral authority? Will they last long? Are we heading into a period where truth and scientific fact matter less than populist rhetoric? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
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