The fact that Britain voted to leave the European Union is a signal that Donald Trump could win the U.S. presidential election.
Both Trump supporters and Britons who voted to leave the EU share the same kind of disenchantment with the political status quo and they support what's been portrayed as a radical solution to change it. They share concerns over border security, national sovereignty and trade deals. They share the desire not just for change, but somewhat radical change, despite the risks all the conventional wisdom experts keep telling them they face by embracing a Brexit and a non-political veteran candidate like Trump. They even share the same age as older voters in Britain have been the strongest "leave" supporters and Trump's base is also mostly aged 40-plus.
But now that the Brexit vote has ended in a win for the leave camp, we've learned something else very important. It's something the Hillary Clinton campaign should pay close attention to as well. Because this Brexit vote proves that "Do as you're told!" isn't such a good campaign slogan or strategy after all.
Make no mistake, that was exactly the message the pro-remain forces used the most leading up to the U.K. vote, with a heavy dose of, "the other side is a bunch of racists" thrown in. Sound familiar? It should because that message is pretty much the thrust of the anti-Trump campaign. The Brexit and pro-Trump sides even have President Obama in common … that is they have the fact that President Obama strongly came out against them and warned against voting the way they want to. Whatever happens here in the U.S. in November, the Brexit result should teach the White House, the Clinton campaign, and the legions of people working so hard to discredit Trump an important lesson about how their methods may be accomplishing the exact opposite of what they're trying to do.
Of course the U.S. and the U.K. are different countries. But because we both went through so many similar effects of the global financial crisis of 2008, the mood and collective experiences of the electorate in both countries is more similar than usual. In this landscape, the voting public seems to be a lot less interested in what the established authority figures tell them. Trump's popularity and the Bernie Sanders surge in the face of massive establishment effort in both parties to destroy their campaigns are the proof.
And in a world that is now getting most of its news from social media on mobile devices, the establishment figures in government and the news media shouldn't be so shocked that fewer people are even able to hear their messages anymore, let alone agree with them.
And remember, this kind of thing has happened before: In 1979, Margaret Thatcher became Britain's prime minister on a domestic and foreign policy platform quite similar to Ronald Reagan's message, which landed him the U.S. presidency one year later.
The victory for the leave camp proves there is now a worldwide movement for change. Will it be enough for the decidedly "change" candidate Donald Trump to win the White House? This country's voters, politicians, and pundits better start getting more prepared for the answer to be "yes."