My first inkling of the importance of Brexit was when the pound sterling suddenly lost around 10% of its value. I tried googling ‘EU’ to find out the implications of Brexit, but it was all quite boring to me in faraway India.
That’s when I realised why Brexit had happened. People get involved in things that are interesting. Or when they know the exact consequences of not doing a particular action.
David Cameron did not fail because of his politics. He failed because he was unable to reach out and strike a chord with voters about Brexit, and get them involved in the issue. What he needed to do was dramatise the negative consequences of not backing Brexit in simple language and vivid imagery. That was the only way to whip up enough enthusiasm to push all the potential ‘remain’ voters to the poll booths.
I read an interesting statistic in The Guardian, which says that though the majority of 18–34 years wanted to ‘remain,’ only half the under 35s planned to vote, and just 21% of 18-24-year-olds showed any interest in the EU vote.
Cameron should have targeted the younger generation just as ‘Leave’ campaign targeted the older generation by tapping into their fears. For instance, the alarm bells would have started ringing for the below 35s if they were made aware that Brexit would dim their job prospects as they would not be able to freely work across Europe.
Even the older generation who favoured ‘leave’ might not have done so if they were made aware of the ‘cutting off your nose to spite your face’ aspect of Brexit. The penny must have dropped when they saw the value of their savings drop drastically as a result of their vote. Would they have blindly supported Brexit if they knew it was going to hurt their pocket?
At a macro level, Brexit demonstrates the drawbacks of not communicating the right message to the right audience, in any given situation.
Take the US, for instance. In a way, the game plan of the ‘leave’ campaign is identical to Trump’s game plan in the US. He’s playing on the whites’ fears of becoming a minority in US, and making them turn inward and away from the rest of the world. He’s saying what they want to hear, and they are connecting to him. His strategy has won him the Republican nomination.
Hillary does not have the Obama charisma that inspired a whole new generation of enthusiastic voters to make him the first Black US President. Her long battle with Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination has exposed her political and personal flaws. If voters show the same apathy towards her as voters in UK showed towards Brexit, she’s doomed.
But unlike Cameron, Hillary seems to be saying the right things. She is switching the conversation from her failings to the disastrous consequences of having Trump as President.
Obama has also joined in on the action, and is beginning to go all out to attack Trump. Hillary has his full backing as he knows that she will in all likelihood continue where his Presidency left off, and in effect cement his legacy. And he knows that if the Democrats stick to their current strategy, there is no way Trump will win.
Because unlike Cameron, Obama understands the power of saying the right thing to the right person.