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Brexit’s Lessons in Improbability

As the world reels from the once improbable unraveling of the European Union and the United Kingdom, grim prognostications of the economic and political fallout betray a more immediate and ominous lesson. Extreme events are not only likely, and their onset can be quite sudden and counter-intuitive. In short, the world’s black swans are coming home to roost and Brexit may be the smaller of two global shocks this year. The other one, which is not entirely unlikely given the visceral anti-establishment chord Trump has struck among the U.S. electorate, is the prospect of a Trump White House.

For those opposed to the equally improbable outcome of a Trump presidency, Brexit should sound a very loud wakeup call that both the messaging and political ground game need to strike a more discernible, emotive and accessible tone. The pro-Brexit movement won by a narrow margin, in no small measure because the lofty arguments to remain in the EU did not reach the broad political masses evoking sufficient passion to get people to the ballot boxes.

Indeed, much like the pro-Trump movement, there are parallels of urban elitism and fear mongering versus populism and radical change, which clearly the majority of the British public was prepared to accept. A platform based on status quo or one based on opposition to extreme movements is clearly insufficient.

The pro-EU bloc, just like the U.S. Democratic platform and those Republicans attempting to salvage their party from Trump’s Trojan horse, need something more accessible and meaningful to people other than mere opposition. Opposition to something, no matter how risky or vile, does not necessarily stand for something and the public in the west wants their elected leaders to take a stance – one that will shake their political apathy and disbelief in the social compact.

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