2016: The rise of the fear mongering demagogues & why every vote for Hillary matters.

It’s time to stop a global trend.

Let’s face it, 2016 has been a really rough year for democracy.

Starting with the infamous Brexit that rocked the foundation of the EU, passing by Thailand’s approval of a military-backed constitution that curtails democracy, and closing with Colombia’s rejection of a once-in-a-lifetime peace treaty, voters around the world are consistently defying common sense, embarrassing pollsters, pundits and prediction markets who never saw it coming.

Are these disastrous results indicative of where the US presidential election is heading to?

A closer look at these seemingly disconnected events reveals an obvious common denominator:

The winning vote was led by a fear mongering demagogue.

Clockwise: Boris Johnson (UK), Donald Trump (US), Prayuth Chan-Ocha (Thailand), Alvaro Uribe (Colombia)

In the UK, Boris Johnson et al. levied a fear-driven “Leave” campaign, designed to inflame nationalism and xenophobia in an already eurosceptic constituency. They preyed on fears about rising immigration and fabricated myths around what a “bad deal” the UK was getting from its EU membership. Sounds Trump-tastically familiar doesn’t it?

In Thailand, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha -who rose to power via a military coup in 2014- launched a constitutional referendum, in part, to give his government the public’s stamp of legitimacy. Ironically, his military junta limited public assemblies and threatened long prison terms for people who spread information that it deemed false, resulting in more than 120 arrests prior to the referendum. Unsurprisingly, the new military influenced constitution won with an ample margin of the popular vote.

In Colombia, the ex-president Alvaro Uribe made opposing the historic peace process his raison d’être. From the onset of the negotiations, Uribe launched a misinformation campaign designed to frighten Colombians. Uribe disingenuously claimed the peace treaty would usher a new wave of Marxism that would lead the country to ruin. He also asserted -without proof- that the treaty would hurt the private sector and that it would erode the country’s family values and impose a new gender ideology. His fear-driven message won him the plebiscite by the narrowest of margins, adding insult to injury to the victims of the conflict who majoritarily voted in favor of the treaty.

Colombian conflict victims devastated by referendum results (via Semana.com)

What can we learn from these events in the context of the US presidential election ?

  1. Fear mongering demagogues are surprisingly popular in the ballots
  2. Don’t rest on the laurels of “good” polls, they’ve been wrong so far
  3. Voters express regret on their vote after the referendums

Much has been written about why Trump-like demagogues are winning popular votes around the world. Main culprits ? Absenteeism, misinformation and most importantly a real dissatisfaction with the existing political elites of their respective countries.

Whether you believe this phenomenon is the byproduct of a capitalist world that ignored too many for too long, or that these demagogues are simply exploiting the long-held beliefs of the uneducated and marginalized, the bottom line is that people are fed up, angry and want change.

From this perspective, the US election is also a valid referendum against the failing political class in Washington . As such Hillary supporters should be careful to not systematically undermine those who oppose them or lazily put them in the metaphorical “crazy” bucket.

There’s no point in playing the blame game. Red or Blue we are all in this together. The most important is to make sure we don’t give yet another fear mongering demagogue the highest office of all.

So what can be done ?

Vote and encourage people you know to vote for Hillary Clinton.

According to polling magician Nate Silver, Hillary’s odds of winning are over 87% . These numbers are a double-edge sword that might encourage disenfranchised democrats to abstain from voting for Hillary, or to give their vote to a third party candidate in the noble hopes of setting the stage for a more representative multi-party democracy in the future.

If these choices resonate with you, I plead you to reconsider voting for Hillary:

First, I truly empathize with the concerns many of you have about her. I fervently campaigned for Bernie Sanders over the past 12 months, and like many of you, I believed he presented a generational opportunity for the country.

I too denounce the unfairness of the primaries and still believe he had the best platform to combat the ails the country suffers from today. Thankfully, Hillary has listened and adopted most his prescriptions.

But if anything has been made clear through those dreadful general election debates, it is that Hillary Clinton is incredibly qualified, resilient as hell and a master at her craft. She has the type of stuff that makes for a world-class leader. One able to inspire, bring dignity to the country and hope to the rest of the world.

This might require a leap of faith for many of you but fear mongering demagogues are winning around the world. Your vote for Hillary might very well stop their winning streak.