Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Brexit Ignites U.S. POTUS Battle

Brexit Ignites U.S. POTUS battle

In the wake of the BREXIT vote, American presidential hopefuls are using the fallout from the vote to shore up their base and boost their central message.

Democrats Lament Over Brexit 

Hillary Clinton joined President Obama in lamenting the decision in which a slim 4 percent margin of Brits voted to exit the European Union. Clinton and Sanders say the move could damage Britain’s economy and hurt international trade.

Trump's Reaction to Brexit

Donald Trump, on the other hand, is positively glowing in the light of what he sees as a populist and nationalist uprising similar to what he hopes will propel him into the White House. After a bit of a gaffe - congratulating Scots on their decision to “leave” when most of them voted to “remain,” Trump turned his focus back to the U.S., where he called for the disaffected and the disillusioned to rise up and go to the polls in support of his “America First” vision.

While both presumptive nominees managed to jump quickly on this world-shaking news, there’s little doubt Trump was able to better bend the narrative to his advantage. In many cases, American voters had little more than a sketch as to what was happening across the Atlantic, but a sketch was all Trump needed to effectively double down on his personal narrative of “America First” and “close the borders.”

Both of these themes were indeed enmeshed in the BREXIT movement, though the issue was undoubtedly more complex than that. Still, both “leave” and “remain” factions in Britain relied heavily on emotionally charged buzzwords, and soundbite-sized narratives to promote their positions.

Polarized Britain Parallels U.S. State of Politics

This strategy is very similar to what national level politicians in the U.S. do. They get their base fired up about an issue then slightly reframe it to appeal to a wider audience. It’s rare to see an issue delved into with any depth, mainly because that’s not what the consumer news viewer or listener is looking for. They’ve proven, time and again, they want bias-tinged quick clips that hit them the way they expect (a cognitive consistency bias). Nuance is not in the cards until you get deep into debates or political magazines.

There’s no doubt the talk shows and political pubs will unpack this issue endlessly over the next week, and it’s likely both top-tier candidates will try to get more mileage out of it. But don’t expect deep thoughts or expansive pondering. That’s not what voters want from their presidential candidates. Winners understand their market and deliver what they want to hear.

David Firester is an intelligence analyst in NJ.

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