Sunday, June 26, 2016
My Sunday Feeling
The Washington Post referred to it as "economic insanity." Stephen Marche of Esquire Magazine referred to it as "economic suicide."
The "it" referred to hereinabove is Great Britain's inexplicable decision rendered by its body politic to leave the European Union. Well, the decision is explainable. It's just not a very good explanation. What it came down to is that the people that backed Britain leaving the EU, or "Brexit" to use the acronym, convinced a slim majority of British voters that a vote to exit was to cast off a meddlesome and officious foreign bureaucracy from the back of John Bull. It was also a referendum on the EU's liberal migration policies within the 28 nation bloc.
Except there is this. As Laurie Penny wrote in the New Statesman Friday morning, the vote was a not a referendum on the EU. "It was a referendum on the modern world, and yesterday the frightened parochial lizard-brain of Britain voted out, out, out and today we've all woken up still strapped onto this ghost-train as it hurtles off the tracks."
The ghost train to which she refers is the one that left an economic bloc with a population of 508 million and a GDP of 17 trillion to go it alone. The ghost train left in its wake-which, of course, assumes that trains leave wakes-a pound note that went through the floor almost immediately as prophesied by experts,more on that later, and has the Scots and Northern Ireland looking at ways to stay in.
God what a mess this could very well turn out to be.
But I believe Ms. Penny is on to something. The vote to exit the EU was a vote against the modern world with its emphasis on empiricism and expertise. A world which is not exclusively white, male and straight.
Predictably, as night followeth the day, Donald Trump, speaking in Scotland for God's sake, a Scotland that voted to stay in the EU, claimed that the vote was proof that "people want to take their country back" a none too subtle variant on his campaign promise to "Make America Great Again" a theme which resonates for a goodly number of voters here on this side of the pond. Overwhelmingly older, less educated and white voters.
So, in light of the stunning events in GB last week, the question not an inconsiderable number of folks are asking is whether a vulgarian like Trump can seize upon the momentum generated over there and get propelled into the Oval Office here?
Probably not. It is because the Founding Fathers, particularly Alexander Hamilton, did not especially trust the electorate when it came to electing a President. They feared that the masses could be manipulated by a future tyrant. So the Electoral College got put into the Constitution. And the states with the greatest number of electoral votes have not been in play for the Republicans for years. It is hard to believe that this will change with a narcissistic xenophobe (Or one who panders to xenophobes at least. Who knows if Trump actually believe a third of this crap he's putting out?) at the top of the ticket.
Populist nationalist fervor can get issues like Brexit passed. It is not enough-and least not in my lifetime-to get a President elected.
The vote on this year's Presidential race, like the vote on Brexit, will be a referendum on the modern world. Will we look backward or forward?
The Founding Fathers were always looking forward. And we can thank them for ordaining a Constitution that protects us from ourselves.