The political climates of the British and American capitals could hardly be more contradictory. The first is electing the son of Pakistani immigrants to the second highest seat in the city, after the prime minister. The position puts him at the helm of a budget exceeding $20 billion a year. He is leading the largest city in Europe, with one of the densest and most diverse populations.
Might we conclude from the fact that London has elected its first Muslim mayor — the first Muslim mayor in any Western capital — while the Republican Party has nominated Trump to be its presidential candidate, that London is a more open and tolerant capital than its American counterpart?
The answer will come from how the battle waged by Trump transpires and the extent to which Americans accept this awful level of regression. At this point, voices from within the Republican Party are calling for the party and the United States to be saved from this fate, even if that means that they are forced to appeal to their supporters to vote for Hillary Clinton. The liberal American press — particularly, for instance, the New York Times and Washington Post — are agreed on opposing Trump, while the liberal right British magazine The Economist has said that Trump’s winning the presidency would be a “disaster” for the Republican Party and, more importantly, for America. Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph, a voice for conservatives in Britain, was amazed how the American people — so brilliant in the fields of business, sciences, arts, etc. — could make such poor choices in the field of politics.
These voices on the right that are opposed to Trump are calling for a bit of optimism, in the hopes that the majority of Americans will wake up before it’s too late, before sliding into danger, threatening not only America itself, but international relations and global peace.
A source of optimism is exhibited in that opponents of Sadiq Khan adopted similar scare tactics against him, but they were unsuccessful, despite appealing to his Pakistani origins and Muslim religion to keep voters from electing him. Nevertheless, the campaign of Khan’s opponents was less audacious than that waged by Donald Trump, seeking to spread among Americans the fear of Muslims, blacks, Mexicans, Chinese, and women. Sadiq Khan was accused of defending the terrorist group responsible for the July 2005 attacks in London, just as his Labour Party was accused of anti-Semitism after former London Mayor Ken Livingstone suggested that Zionists and Nazis worked together for the emigration of Jews to Palestine.
But the scare tactics attempting to link Sadiq Khan to terrorism were unsuccessful, as was the campaign led by Jewish leaders — starting with Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis — to pressure Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to expel anti-Semitic members from the party. Voters in London chose sanity and a respect for the values of tolerance and cultural, religious and social pluralism to be features of London. As Sadiq Khan said after being elected, Londoners chose “hope over fear, and unity over division,” and that “the politics of fear” are not welcome in the British capital.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, it is hoped that the negative reactions over the possibility of Trump winning the presidency might wake Americans up to the importance of returning to the very roots of the Republican Party, and to the American values of liberty, equality, and justice for all — to which Trump is the antithesis, both personally and politically.