Posts analysing Donald Trump’s rise to the White House are ten a penny right now, but most people seem to be missing the key reason to his success, and to that of Britain leaving the EU.
Firstly, one must consider what made these options attractive in the first place. Both Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the various Leave campaigns for the EU referendum made a point of the perceived corruption in the establishment and offered an albeit disingenuous alternative.
Both campaigns were happy to tell people that things were bad; the Leave campaigns blamed this largely on a large amount of immigrants draining the UK’s resources – Trump blamed it on the US allowing other nations and peoples to drain their resources from outside of the country (Mexicans weren’t sending their best people, the trade deficit with China etc.)
Both answers are oversimplified if not completely untrue, but both hold up to easy solutions. For Britain, leave the EU and end the free movement of people; stemming immigration. For the USA, build a wall between them and Mexico, ban Muslims and so on. Both campaigns could use emotive language, and easily advocate Change, whether it was beneficial or not, Change nonetheless.
This leads to the fatal mistakes that their opponents made, which was to brand Trump/Leave as mad, stupid and xenophobic. While some people who voted Leave/Trump could accurately be described this way, it is really rather dismissive to tar everyone with the same brush.
What Clinton and Remain got wrong was that convincing people that things would be worse under their opponents and they could stop things from getting worse is that it’s just not a good enough argument. You can’t campaign under a manifesto of no change when a majority of people feel that their lives are already too poor to continue. This attitude inspires apathy in some and frustration in others. The apathetic won’t see the point in voting for you, and the frustrated vote against you in protest.
The sliver lining in these dark, fractured times, is that the political landscape has been blown wide open. Clintons and Camerons are now seen as vacuous and unimportant. There is a potential for radically more progessive politics to appear, possibly in the form of Jeremy Corbyn here and Bernie Sanders in the USA. These politicians are also campaigning for change; they are outside the ‘corrupt’ establishment.
And remember, while the media keep saying that Corbyn is unelectable, they said the same thing about Trump and look how wrong they were…