Donald Trump's historic win and the shocking Brexit should teach us a hard lesson about the consequences of patronizing people.
We have seen how many Trump supporters were all labeled as sexist or racist. Although this might be true about number of them but generalizing is a big mistake. Perhaps they just wanted a new order, they saw themselves as victims of the current system and they felt that Trump was the only man for this mission. This could explain why many predictions about the result of the presidential elections were wrong as many Trump enthusiasts were scared of the stigma of supporting him.
Labeling people and judging them for making this choice will not make them change their minds. We have witnessed this in Egypt several times with Abd El Fatah El-Sisi Supporters. Although the 2 presidents are totally different but their supporters were somehow treated similarly. Political activists in Egypt frequently called El-Sisi supporters as "Slaves of Army Boots" in a way to demean them, nevertheless this did not stop them from voting for him in 2014 and showing him the support he asked for every time. After years of turmoil since the 2011 revolution, people were very scared because of the security situation with daily news about bombs found in Cairo streets, rise in crime and terror attacks. They wanted this all to stop, El -Sisi represented the strong leader who could lead them through this storm of instability. He was speaking their own language while activists were talking over their heads on TVs and social media.
You will not persuade a Trump supporter who really believes for example that all Muslims are terrorists by insulting her/him, you will do that by debates and showing them examples proving otherwise. But what is of vital importance here is Media role in all what happened so far. First, many media outlets instilled fear of the other in Americans for years, and so when Trump came and spoke with same tone he was credible enough to them. Second, many of the media outlets during the campaigns treated Trump lightly, they were just making stories to mock him, but this did not falter his supporters who saw him as a man speaking their minds. Mathew Ingram has put it right when he said in his article in Fortune:
In part, that's because much of the East Coast-based media establishment is arguably out of touch with the largely rural population that voted for Trump, the disenfranchised voters who looked past his cheesy exterior and his penchant for half-truths and heard a message of hope, however twisted.
Another factor which may have helped Trump to win could be that many democrats were confident that Clinton will win so they did not vote, especially with many predictions that she will win with a large margin like the prediction of economist David Rothschild's PredictWise site which believed Clinton has 89% chance of winning. This could be reinforced by reports suggesting that one of the reasons that contributed in Trump's victory was the weak turnout in key Democratic strongholds.
These fatal assumptions were also wrong in Egypt. In Egypt's 2014 presidential elections, some political parties and activists declared they will not vote. Activists who opposed El-Sisi believed that he would win by a landslide and that nothing they could do to change the inevitable. It is true El-Sisi won by 96.91% while his opponent Hamden Sabahy - who only got 3.09% - did not really have a chance to win but I believe those who boycotted the elections could have sent a clear message if they voiced their refusal of El-Sisi by engaging and voting for Sabahy.
It is time to switch from shaming to understanding and actively engaging with the masses whose voices shape countries.