Former UK Independent Party leader Nigel Farage appeared at a Donald Trump rally in Jackson, Mississippi on Wednesday night to tell Republican voters that what had been done in Britain could be done in the United States. Farage, who is credited with leading his home country out of the European Union in June, said that the establishment was no match for the people.
“You can beat the pollsters, you can beat the commentators, you can beat Washington,” Farage said in front of more than 15,000 Trump supporters. “If you want change, you better get your walking boots on. You better get out there campaigning. And remember, anything is possible if enough decent people are prepared to stand up against the establishment.”
Farage, a businessman-turned-politician like Trump, said there were many similarities between the Brexit movement and what was happening in the United States.
“I’m going to say to people in this country that the circumstances, the similarities, the parallels, between the people that voted Brexit and the people that could beat Clinton in a few weeks’ time here in America are uncanny,” he told a Mississippi radio show before the event in Jackson.
At the rally, he expressed scorn for President Obama, who urged the British people to remain in the EU earlier this summer. “He talked down to us,” Farage recalled. “He treated us as nothing.”
And while Farage said that he couldn’t tell anyone how to vote in November, he said, “If I was an American citizen, I wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton if you paid me. In fact, I wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton if she paid me.”
Trump himself told his supporters that they would soon get the chance to follow in Britain’s footsteps.
“On June 23, the people of Britain voted to declare their independence – which is what we’re also looking to do, folks – from their international government,” Trump said. “They voted to reclaim control over immigration, over economy, over government. Working people took control of their destiny. We will have one American nation, not divided. November 8 is our chance to re-declare American independence.”
Of course, the American news media has been busy chronicling the Brexit vote as a catastrophic failure of democracy – a tragic mistake that the British people would take back in a heartbeat if they had the chance. This, well before the UK has actually taken even the slightest first step towards independence from the EU. But since when do facts matter?
The truth is that, whether Brexit was the right move or not, the vote itself was a remarkable victory for populist sentiment. Farage managed to reach out to British citizens who typically stayed far away from the voting booths by showing them that they had more power than they realized. Among the many other similarities between Farage’s movement and Trump’s, this one is the most important.
In both countries, millions of disenfranchised, cynical citizens have been drawn back into the political process for the first time in years. No matter what happens this November, that’s a good thing.