Through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole: Brexit, Peace in Colombia and Donald Trump

Picture yourself hungover, after a night of excess. You get up, and stumble to the bathroom for a visceral, scatological experience. You wash your face, and look into the mirror. You see a face that you barely recognize, with a twist of shame, guilt and remorse. That face in the mirror is Donald Trump (Aka. Mr.T), as America and the whole world stare into the deepest corners of our collective self. We don't want to acknowledge it, but he is us and we are him, just as the buddhist aphorisms we chant for meditation claim.

 The Brexit referendum and the Plebiscito de la paz in Colombia have a couple of things in common, but one stands out: they were won by detractors with campaigns based on lies. Say what you want about Mr. T in the US, but you cannot say it is not one of the most successful branding exercises in contemporary media. I believe that campaigns favoring peace and Stay both failed to achieve a branding experience as successful as Boris or Alvarito. The leader of the anti-peace campaign gave an interview where he blatantly confessed that their strategy was based on triggering fear and rage in voters (much like the "shape of bannanas" case in the UK). Together with media channels comparable to Fox news, they manipulated public opinion, and drove the opposition into a dead-end strategy: explaining the true effects and implications of the decision. I believe campaigning against Mr.T is also failing, we see so much of him in media that it is only reinforcing his own agenda: polarization and provocation, triggering primal emotions in voters.

The antidote for such strategy is clear: education. Colombian voters were massively divided based on education level, and multiple reports suggest that the Brexit phenomenon was also heavily influenced by the same indicator. The only problem is, fixing education seems like a utopian future in the face of current political climate, and it is a long term solution for a short term problem (speaking as someone who is against Brexit, in favor of Peace, and against Mr.T).

 I would very much like to know what design thinkers have to say about this, but I think that "liberal" agendas need to come up with a counterpart to the way right wing politics are feeding on primal emotions among uneducated classes, because, let's face it, no supporter of Mr.T is ever going to change his opinion because we post about his sex scandals or his economic plans. This does not necessarily mean engaging in disinformation campaigns, but rather, getting dirty, "going to the mattresses", and communicating with the uneducated fraction of the population at the core of their emotions. And to do so, we must listen, instead of preach. Empathize, instead of despise and denigrate, because like it or not, we share a future with them.

 In a way, it's either walk through the looking glass, or venture down the rabbit hole. Both will be equally surreal, but one will likely be more effective against the current polarization in the world.

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