Dear Europe [CC for English, Dutch, German, French, Italian]

You’ve got some important choices to make this year. Extreme-right parties are on the rise and will be asking for your vote. There’s Marine Le Pen of Frances National Front. Geert Wilders of the Netherland’s Freedom Party. And Frauke Petry, leader of Alternative for Deutschland. They’ll claim its time to take your country back. In the US and the UK, we’ve already seen the start of this reversal. Last year though, no one thought Brexit had much of a chance. Virtually every poll showed Donald Trump far behind. Both countries were surprised how quickly former leaders… stepped aside or got in line. As norms shatter we wonder… did we overestimate the strength of our democracy? Plenty of us fell for dubious headlines. Lies spread faster than the truth. We were swept up in a storm of empty slogans, not policy. Many wanted to “send a message”… To wield rage and chaos as a change agent. Citizens believed they were voting against the status quo, without fully considering what they were voting for. We neglected history’s lessons, opting for scapegoats over solutions. Sometimes it was hard to talk to family and friends on the other side. It was often easier to accuse, than ask questions. Some regret not even broaching a conversation until it was too late. Worst of all most felt so sure how the vote would go… that many didn’t even bother to make it to the polls. Opting out only emboldens the most extreme voices. So this year, please, don’t stay home. Bring your friends. Because the future is written by those who vote.

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