I didn’t write anything about it, but I had a feeling that the Brexit vote was going to go the way the bigots, racists, radicals and fear-mongers wanted it to. Selling fear is much easier than trying to be reasonable and logical, which always puts those trying to explain complex situations based on factual information at a huge disadvantage over someone who can just show “scary things” to prey on anger, paranoia and ignorance.
So, when I heard the news that Britain voted to leave the EU, I wasn’t surprised. Nor was I surprised to read yesterday morning that there was a huge spike in Google searches in Britain asking questions like:
- What is Brexit?
- What will happen if we leave the EU?
- What is the EU referendum?
Those are all great questions — which should have been asked before Thursday’s vote.
But what Brexit really signifies is the power hate and fear can have in today’s world where, unfortunately, far too many people get their “information” by only reading headlines or sharing memes that are often extremely inaccurate, if not flat-out wrong. That’s why it’s not “breaking news” that there was a huge spike in Google searches for what Brexit really meant. I’m willing to bet that the vast majority of people who wanted to see Britain leave the EU (and even many who wanted it to stay) probably don’t actually know a whole lot of factual information about what this means.
This vote needs to be a huge wake up call to everyone in the United States who doesn’t want to see radical fanaticism takeover. Because that’s essentially what happened in Britain — the fanatics won.
This is why I’m not one of these people who thinks “populist” movements are necessarily great things. Sure, they seem like a good idea — people coming together, passionate and inspired, galvanized around a system of beliefs to bring about the change that they want to their country. But let’s not forget, Nazi Germany was more or less a “populist” uprising. So was the Cuban revolution that put Fidel Castro in charge. Hell, the truth is, so is Donald Trump’s rise to the top of the GOP.
In many ways, Donald Trump becoming president would be our version of “Brexit.” He’s being supported by, and pandering to, the very same bigoted ignorance and fear that “won” Thursday night in Britain.
Considering that sensationalized ignorance is often a much easier sell than complicated factual information, a lot of what drives these “populist” movements is irrational anger and misinformation pushed by people and groups specifically targeting people who are easily swayed by knee-jerk emotional reactions. And if you can get people emotionally invested into something, it becomes damn near impossible to change their minds — no matter how many facts you use to debunk something they want to believe.
The Brexit vote shows us that we all must stand together and fight to make damn sure our own “Brexit,” Donald Trump, doesn’t become our next president. The same ignorance, bigotry, racism, paranoia and small-minded idiocy that fueled the movement that led to Britain leaving the EU is the exact same “populist” type of movement that’s fueling Trump’s presidential campaign.