Lessons from Brexit to stop Trump

During the EU referendum, many voters, including many Brexiters themselves, didn’t believe Leave side would win for real. I am truly worried that similar thing will happen in the States: Everyone refuses to believe that Donald Trump could actually win this presidential election, but indeed he does.

Before too late, I think we can all learn from Brexit.

First of all, we have to stop generalisation. Didn’t British often call Leave voters ignorant racists, similar labels that are used for Trump supporters nowadays? Sure, there may be some small portion of ultra-right folks, who truly believe in “building the wall” and “ban all muslims”. But I bet large majority of Trump supporters or Leave voters are not like that at all. They, in fact, hate to be grouped as “one of them”. So when someone wants to discuss their reasons why they support Leaving the EU or voting for Trump, they have to start from very defensive position to deny that they are not stupid or racist. It would be very difficult to have constructive discussion, when the opponent is so guarded.

Secondly, we must try to understand the other side, seriously. Government warned horrendous economic impact from leaving the EU. But for many Brexiters, the economy was already terrible. How can it get even worse, they wondered. So it might as well better off having some drastic change (e.g. leave European Union). Their frustration for the society is real. They feel marginalised for far too long. Change, any change, would look like a better option than status quo. Donald Trump is also a change, who says he would make America great again. How can you not be hopeful, if your life is already so hard?

Once you understand the pain, the anger, the frustration of Trump supporters or Brexiters, you may want to start convincing them to look at other options. Never, ever lecture them, or let alone make fun of what they believe in. Remainers often treated Brexiters as less-educated, who cannot see the economic impact of leaving the EU, and started to lecture them in news and even in comedy shows. As a result, Brexiters shut themselves down to such patriarchic discourse. No-one likes to be treated like that.

What we really need to do is to prove that the alternative options would have better chance of improving their lives. Yeah, the other options may not be the *best* option ever. Europe has problems, Hilary Clinton has problems. But they probably do have better plans to grow economy, improve health care, or keep safe community. Instead of fear mongering, show them hope. David Cameron failed to paint the brighter future of staying in Europe, while much of his effort was focused on illustrating dark economic downfall if we left the EU. Hilary supporters are not putting enough effort for it either.

We still have time until November.

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