Both geographically and demographically, the British referendum split the U.K. along lines familiar in America. An extensive election-day survey by Lord Michael Ashcroft, a British pollster, found that the leave campaign carried over three-fifths of those without four-year college degrees, a comparable number of seniors, and a narrow majority of all whites. Election results showed the leave campaign amassing big margins outside of major cities. The campaign to remain won over two-thirds of non-whites, about three-fifths of college graduates, and big majorities among younger and urban voters. In London, which recently elected one of the western world’s first Muslim mayors, 60 percent voted to stay.
All of this replicates American patterns. Democrats now rely on an urbanized coalition of Millennials, minorities, and socially liberal college-educated and single whites (especially women). Republicans thrive among older, non-college educated and religiously devout whites, especially outside of major cities. In 2012, President Obama carried less than one-fourth of America’s counties; he won fewer counties than any presidential winner since at least 1920. But because Obama so dominated the nation’s population centers, he triumphed by 5 million votes.
In a way, having a college degree means I can't join the racist, belching rabble and vote for Donald Trump. I have too much information--I'm a high information voter--and I can't just sit here and write stupid things all day long (since when has that ever stopped anyone, including me?).
What I think gets left out of the equation is that we are faced with choices that have not energized the populations of either Britain or America. President Obama was a once-in-a-lifetime bolt out of nowhere. He energized millions and he promised renewal. His legacy will be that of a largely successful president who could have done more with a reasonable opposition party. The fact that he accomplished anything at all was entirely in spite of the hate expressed towards him as the first black president.
With Hillary being the first female president, we'll see some renewal of hope and we'll see more women participating in public life, I would imagine. What we'll also see is a mirror image of the racism expressed towards Obama in the misogyny that will be directed like a broadside at Hillary.
Like Obama, she'll advance the movement towards a more equitable and fair United States of America. And she'll be denied any credit for doing her best to make people's lives better, just like Obama.