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You don't like Brexit or Trump? Sorry but that is what democracy is all about

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Protesters march on Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee to denounce the election of Donald
Trump as US President

Protesters march on Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee to denounce the election of Donald Trump as US President

Protesters march on Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee to denounce the election of Donald Trump as US President

Maybe it's the company I keep, but there seems to be an awful lot of people whining that 2016 has been the worst year ever, because of Brexit and the Donald Trump victory. To which my response is: don't you believe in democracy then?

Let me say here that I voted Remain in the referendum - I'm no fan of the European Union, which I consider dysfunctional and elitist, deeply resistant to reform from within, but I reluctantly voted to stay because I feared the destabilising effects of leaving, particularly on our own fragile set-up in Northern Ireland. As for Trump, I regard him as a loathsome, narcissistic demagogue and vulgarian, who stands for attitudes, values and policies that I despise. "The Lord of the Flies on his own 757," as PJ O'Rourke aptly put it.

So my side lost, on both counts (I would have voted for Bernie Sanders, if I'd had the chance, certainly not the crony capitalist Hillary, and never for Trump). Fair enough. That's the way it goes sometimes. It's quite simple really: insufficient numbers of people share your view of the world, with the result that your side gets out-voted.

Yet I can't join the chorus of caterwauling about the events of 2016 because too often these yowls come in the form of an appalling assault on democracy and democratic values.

The people were too stupid or racist or misogynistic to see what was good for them, so they voted the wrong way: that seems to be the essential argument from right-thinking people, on both sides of the Atlantic. As a consequence, the entire world is in jeopardy, because of the ill-informed antics of these haters, dullards and xenophobes, who clearly can't be trusted to enter a voting booth and make the correct choice. Probably they can barely hold a pen in their piggish fists, right?

"After Trump, I'm losing faith in democracy", "Can we trust the people?", "Why elections are bad for democracy": I promise you, I didn't make these headlines up.

"What if democracy doesn't work? What if it never has and never will?" fretted columnist George Monbiot. Jessica Valenti, one of Hillary Clinton's most obedient feminist fans, said that it was perfectly acceptable to shame women and men who voted for Trump: "being socially ostracised for supporting Trump is not an infringement of your rights, it's a reasonable response by those of us who are disgusted, anxious, and afraid." The shameless, shameful fools - how could they be so thick and revolting? Let's never speak to them again.

Of course, it's this very attitude of sneering contempt for ordinary people that helped to create the conditions for an almighty backlash against the political and media establishment. If you treat people outside your own bubble of entitlement as vicious, deluded idiots, no wonder they eventually turn round, raise a defiant middle finger and say enough already.

That's not to say that Brexit and Trump are seamlessly equivalent - plenty of people who voted to leave the EU would never dream of voting for a Trump presidency. But both movements represent a deep disillusionment with the status quo.

I'm sorry to say that much of the rampant prole-shaming has come from within the Left. I don't like political labels, and prefer to resist them, but I still consider the Left my natural home. Freedom, progress, equality, universal human rights: that's what it's all about, isn't it? Not any longer. Now too many so-called progressives have taken a puritanical, authoritarian, pro-censorship turn, keen to ban anything they disagree with - and they seem oblivious to the dangerous political consequences.

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Singer Kanye West and President-elect Donald Trump speak with the press after their meetings at Trump Tower December 13, 2016 in New York. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Singer Kanye West and President-elect Donald Trump speak with the press after their meetings at Trump Tower December 13, 2016 in New York. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

Singer Kanye West and President-elect Donald Trump talk at Trump Tower after meetings on December 13, 2016 in New York. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Singer Kanye West and President-elect Donald Trump talk at Trump Tower after meetings on December 13, 2016 in New York. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

President-elect Donald Trump talks with Kanye West in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

President-elect Donald Trump talks with Kanye West in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

AP

President-elect Donald Trump and Kanye West pose for a picture in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

President-elect Donald Trump and Kanye West pose for a picture in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

AP

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 13: (L to R) President-elect Donald Trump shakes hands with Kanye West in the lobby at Trump Tower, December 13, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 13: (L to R) President-elect Donald Trump shakes hands with Kanye West in the lobby at Trump Tower, December 13, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Getty Images

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 13: (L to R) President-elect Donald Trump and Kanye West stand together in the lobby at Trump Tower, December 13, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 13: (L to R) President-elect Donald Trump and Kanye West stand together in the lobby at Trump Tower, December 13, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Singer Kanye West and President-elect Donald Trump arrive to speak with the press after their meetings at Trump Tower December 13, 2016 in New York. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Singer Kanye West and President-elect Donald Trump arrive to speak with the press after their meetings at Trump Tower December 13, 2016 in New York. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

Singer Kanye West and President-elect Donald Trump speak with the press after their meetings at Trump Tower December 13, 2016 in New York. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Singer Kanye West and President-elect Donald Trump speak with the press after their meetings at Trump Tower December 13, 2016 in New York. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

Singer Kanye West and President-elect Donald Trump talk as they arrive to talk to the press after their meetings at Trump Tower December 13, 2016 in New York. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Singer Kanye West and President-elect Donald Trump talk as they arrive to talk to the press after their meetings at Trump Tower December 13, 2016 in New York. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

Singer Kanye West and President-elect Donald Trump  speak to the press after their meeting at Trump Tower on December 13, 2016 in New York. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Singer Kanye West and President-elect Donald Trump speak to the press after their meeting at Trump Tower on December 13, 2016 in New York. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

Singer Kanye West(R) arrives at Trump Tower December 13, 2016 as US President-elect Donald Trump continues to hold meetings In New York. / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY        (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Singer Kanye West(R) arrives at Trump Tower December 13, 2016 as US President-elect Donald Trump continues to hold meetings In New York. / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Singer Kanye West arrives at Trump Tower December 13, 2016 as US President-elect Donald Trump continues to hold meetings in New York. / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY        (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Singer Kanye West arrives at Trump Tower December 13, 2016 as US President-elect Donald Trump continues to hold meetings in New York. / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 13: Kanye West arrives at Trump Tower, December 13, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 13: Kanye West arrives at Trump Tower, December 13, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Singer Kanye West arrives at Trump Tower December 13, 2016 as US President-elect Donald Trump continues to hold meetings In New York. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Singer Kanye West arrives at Trump Tower December 13, 2016 as US President-elect Donald Trump continues to hold meetings In New York. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

Singer Kanye West(R) arrives at Trump Tower December 13, 2016 as US President-elect Donald Trump continues to hold meetings In New York. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Singer Kanye West(R) arrives at Trump Tower December 13, 2016 as US President-elect Donald Trump continues to hold meetings In New York. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

Singer Kanye West(C) arrives at Trump Tower December 13, 2016 as US President-elect Donald Trump continues to hold meetings In New York. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Singer Kanye West(C) arrives at Trump Tower December 13, 2016 as US President-elect Donald Trump continues to hold meetings In New York. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

Singer Kanye West arrives at Trump Tower December 13, 2016 as US President-elect Donald Trump continues to hold meetings in New York. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Singer Kanye West arrives at Trump Tower December 13, 2016 as US President-elect Donald Trump continues to hold meetings in New York. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 13: Kanye West arrives at Trump Tower, December 13, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 13: Kanye West arrives at Trump Tower, December 13, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Getty Images

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 13: Kanye West arrives at Trump Tower, December 13, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 13: Kanye West arrives at Trump Tower, December 13, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Getty Images

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 13: Kanye West arrives at Trump Tower, December 13, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 13: Kanye West arrives at Trump Tower, December 13, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Singer Kanye West and President-elect Donald Trump speak with the press after their meetings at Trump Tower December 13, 2016 in New York. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

As Jerry Barnett, author of a new book on sex and censorship, writes: "only a true elitist could try to dictate which ideas other people have access to, rather than join the debate and win by force of reason".

Remarkably, the word 'liberal' is used as an insult these days, directed at anyone who refuses to conform to the intolerant orthodoxy. I've had it flung at me, to which my answer is: guilty as charged.

Here's a suggestion for those bewailing the horrors of 2016. Instead of complaining about the ignorance of the masses, slandering millions of people as racists and fools, try a different approach in 2017.

Step out of your nice, cosy echo chamber and listen. Hear that roar? It's called the freedom to speak, and choose, and vote, and you deny it at your peril.

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Donald Trump, chairman and president of the Trump Organization and the founder of Trump Entertainment Resorts, speaks at a press conference on day two of the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference on May 30, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Members of the Republican Party are scheduled to speak at the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference, which hosts 1,500 delegates from across the country through May 31st.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Donald Trump, chairman and president of the Trump Organization and the founder of Trump Entertainment Resorts, speaks at a press conference on day two of the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference on May 30, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Members of the Republican Party are scheduled to speak at the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference, which hosts 1,500 delegates from across the country through May 31st. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Donald Trump's comments have provoked outrage

Donald Trump's comments have provoked outrage

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Getty Images

Donald Trump is considering running for president

Donald Trump is considering running for president

Donald Trump has refused to back down over his remarks about Mexican immigrants

Donald Trump has refused to back down over his remarks about Mexican immigrants

Donald Trump tees off.

Donald Trump tees off.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a town hall event in  New Hampshire (AP)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a town hall event in New Hampshire (AP)

Donald Trump says he and NBC have settled their beauty pageant "dust-up"

Donald Trump says he and NBC have settled their beauty pageant "dust-up"

Donald Trump said his proposal comes in response to the level of hatred among "large segments of the Muslim population" toward Americans (AP)

Donald Trump said his proposal comes in response to the level of hatred among "large segments of the Muslim population" toward Americans (AP)

Donald Trump's support for a Muslim database in the US drew sharp criticism (AP)

Donald Trump's support for a Muslim database in the US drew sharp criticism (AP)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump mocks disabled reporter Serge Kovaleski. Kovaleski has arthrogryposis

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump mocks disabled reporter Serge Kovaleski. Kovaleski has arthrogryposis

Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump

Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump

AP

Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump assures America he has no size issues during Republican presidential primary debate at Fox Theatre, Thursday, March 3, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump assures America he has no size issues during Republican presidential primary debate at Fox Theatre, Thursday, March 3, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

AP

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (AP)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (AP)

An protester against Donald Trump holds a burning T-shirt outside the Republican's rally in Albuquerque (AP)

An protester against Donald Trump holds a burning T-shirt outside the Republican's rally in Albuquerque (AP)

After the Orlando nightclub mass shooting - the worst in American history - Donald Trump tweeted: "Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart! "

After the Orlando nightclub mass shooting - the worst in American history - Donald Trump tweeted: "Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart! "

Donald Trump, chairman and president of the Trump Organization and the founder of Trump Entertainment Resorts, speaks at a press conference on day two of the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference on May 30, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Members of the Republican Party are scheduled to speak at the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference, which hosts 1,500 delegates from across the country through May 31st. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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