I predicted it.
I say this with pride, not because I was right and almost everybody else in the chattering elite was wrong, but because it demonstrates the dangers of knowing too much and thinking too much.
I paid very little attention to the Brexit debate, mirroring what most Americans know about politics. I had other stuff to do. Nobody was paying me to comment on the EU.
"If it passes, doesn't that mean Muslim refugees won't be able to enter the UK?" my son asked me.
"It will pass," I said.
"But what about the economy? What about leaving Germany holding the bag for Europe?"
Now I thought about laughing at the plight of the poor Germans, which is very politically incorrect. I restrained myself and repeated, "It will pass."
"All the polls say it won't," my son informed me, noting that financial firms had spent a lot of money polling this.
I laughed. "Maybe they went door-to-door. That's the most expensive way to survey." And no one does it much anymore, because, among other reasons, people lie through their teeth when confronted with a choice between the politically correct and the incorrect. We used to live by the rule that a black candidate has to be ahead by at least 10 points going into election day to account for the effect of politically correct lying to pollsters, which some might call racist.
My son's trading algorithm was telling him to move to cash equivalents. The algorithm and I were both predicting victory for the "Leave" camp. We probably should have bet more.
So, how did I know? What secrets have I learned in 30 years in politics that allowed me to predict a vote I paid almost no attention to? I hadn't thought through all the ramifications, which was probably a predictive advantage. My rationale could be summarized in two words: fear and anger. What I have learned in politics is that decent people who know the politically correct answer are less likely to give it when they are angry and afraid.
Everyone knows the horrid conundrum: 99 percent of Muslims are peaceful people, but nearly 100 percent of the terrorists who have brought down aircrafts and terrorized cities are Muslims. Decent people don't want to say that they're afraid of Muslims, but if the billionaire Republican nominee for president of the United States can come right out and say that no Muslims should be allowed in his country, why shouldn't a British citizen be able to do the same?
What all that means for the contest I do pay attention to is this: Hillary Clinton's lead in the polls may well be illusory. She should win, based on all rational criteria; that doesn't necessarily mean she will. Right now, the angrier and more afraid you are, the more likely you are to vote for Donald Trump.
Clinton needs to change that before the new handlers around Trump manage to smooth his rough edges and edit his wildest rhetoric. Clinton has a huge financial advantage over Trump at this point, but presidential contests get so much attention anyway that unless it's a particularly strong message (often delivered by independent groups, so the candidate can evade responsibility), the ads don't matter. But there are exceptions, and one is right now.
Spend, Hillary, spend. Use some of that money to define Trump before his handlers can redefine him. Who is Donald Trump? Let's hear from the Americans who didn't get their educations, who lost their investments, who went bankrupt while he sailed off to his next venture.
Americans have been voting for Trump as an expression of fear. Clinton needs to remind them that they should also fear what would happen if we elected such an undisciplined, uncontrolled and unqualified man to lead our country.
Like her or not, Clinton is the one. It's not the message that brings tears to my eyes — tears that should accompany this moment in history, the first time a major party will nominate a woman for president — but it's still the truth.
(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)
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