It’s not the economy, the price of gas, or war in the Middle East that has working- and middle-class people from Bangor, Maine to Bangor, Wales mad as hell. It’s immigration. They’re fed up being forced to accept unlimited numbers of migrants and refugees from cultures that in many cases don’t share Western democratic values. They’ve had it with the internationalist coalition of elite journalists, establishment politicians, and financial grandees telling them that if they oppose the principles of open borders and centralized decision-making, they are no better than white-sheet-wearing racists.
Whether in West Virginia or the West Midlands, people see and feel their culture changing, and see their leaders taking away their right to slow or blunt those changes. Brexit is one response. Donald Trump is another. It may be a backlash, it may be reactionary, but it’s a legitimate political expression of exhaustion, anger, and powerlessness.