America’s Wake-Up Call: The Brexit Lesson

If there’s one essential lesson America can learn from the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, it is that the only winners in this ill-advised referendum were the racists and xenophobes — those Brits who are anti-immigrant, anti-Islamic and anti-Semitic — and the far-right UK Independence Party. In the lead up to Thursday’s vote, UKIP members of Parliament made a series of racist remarks, encouraging the growing divide in the UK. These are the same tactics used by Donald Trump and his supporters.

As we approach our upcoming presidential election, Brexit should give us cause to pause and reflect on how we cast our votes in November. Recent polls clearly show that Americans are thrilled with neither of the major candidates. Despite this, we must make a choice between the two, and vote for the candidate best able to lead our nation. The individual best equipped to move America’s economic and global agenda forward is Hillary Clinton. She is far more experienced than Donald Trump could ever be. To win in these fractious times, however, Hillary Clinton must take a page from Barack Obama’s political playbook.

In 2008 and 2012 Obama won convincingly because of his ability to engage and speak to so many constituencies. One of America’s great strengths is its pluralistic society, and Obama stood on a diverse platform which encompassed voters of color, women, the LGBT community, blue-collar white men, Millennials, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. Engaging and speaking to these constituencies could offer Clinton a solid strategy for winning the election. The demographics in America are shifting, with Asians, Latinos, and blacks among the fastest growing segments of our population. In less than 30 years, people of color will be the majority in this country.

Many of Trump’s supporters want to take us back to a pre-Civil Rights era, when people of color and women held relatively little power in political, social, and business circles. Thankfully, demographics and history are not on the side of the xenophobes.

We are at a critical juncture in history. America and the world face unprecedented challenges, including domestic and foreign terrorism, climate change, and a broken political system where money and, all too often, hatred and ignorance dominate politics.

Trump’s approach to so many of these serious issues is to engage in childish name-calling and self-aggrandizing soundbites. He espouses “solutions” that encourage hate and international isolation. His ignorance of international issues is astounding. Witness his press conference on his golf course in Scotland Friday, the day after the Brexit vote, where he idiotically praised Scotland for voting to leave the EU, when in fact it did the opposite.

In addition to getting his facts wrong — repeatedly — Trump has been a serial offender of nearly every demographic group in America, while his popularity has risen by his combination of brawn, bullying, bigotry and bombast. The few policy proposals put forth by Trump, including his ban on all Muslims entering the country and the construction of a wall on the Mexican border; have lacked vision while peddling hate, fear, and xenophobia, which are out of step with every American value we hold dear.

Hillary Clinton must galvanize every American who has been demeaned, ostracized, and stereotyped by the Trump campaign. To bring America together, and offer a stark contrast between their visions for the future, Clinton must clearly outline her goals for America. She must speak convincingly of her plans for a future in which we have a strong economy, create jobs, have access to affordable higher education, and keep our homes, schools, places of worship, movie theaters and nightclubs safe.

The rise of Europe’s and the UK’s far right should prompt every American who values the principles upon which our country was founded to not only register to vote, but to make their vote count by heading to the polls this November. Even more than that, we need to encourage our family members, friends, neighbors and colleagues to vote. We cannot afford to let hatred and xenophobia win in America. This election will be a referendum on whether America can live up to its ideals of pluralism and continue to serve as a shining example of democracy and inclusion. Hillary Clinton must expound her vision and speak boldly to our hope and not our fears. The world is watching.

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