Will Brexit cross At­lantic?

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

The world was left stunned by last month’s vote in the United King­dom that will see Bri­tain be the first coun­try to leave the Euro­pean Union in the bloc’s 22-year his­tory.

An out­growth of the for­mer Euro­pean Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity, World War II and the Cold War, the EU had been seen as one of the most suc­cess­ful ex­per­i­ments with mem­ber state unions in the world’s his­tory.

Its poli­cies aim to en­sure the free move­ment of peo­ple, goods, ser­vices and cap­i­tal within the in­ter­nal mar­ket, en­act leg­is­la­tion in jus­tice and home af­fairs, and main­tain com­mon poli­cies on trade, agri­cul­ture, fish­eries and re­gional de­vel­op­ment. Most borders be­tween mem­ber states have re­moved pass­port con­straints and the euro was de­vel­oped and uti­lized by 19 states to boost re­gional economies.

When the world’s econ­omy was run­ning full bore in the late ’90s and early 2000s, things were won­der­ful for life in the EU and any thought of leav­ing such a profitable part­ner­ship was fool­hardy.

Cue the 2008 global re­ces­sion, ex­ac­er­bated by the col­lapse of mem­ber state Greece’s econ­omy, how­ever, and the mood was be­gin­ning to grow sour. Add to that to­day’s mi­grant cri­sis out of the Syr­ian civil war and the grow­ing threat of ter­ror­ism fol­low­ing at­tacks in Paris and Brus­sels, and the de­sire to leave was en­tic­ing for many Brits.

In­ter­est­ingly enough, if one were to sub­sti­tute “Amer­ica” for “Bri­tain” in much of that his­tory, we’d likely find a very sim­i­lar ver­sion of our re­cent his­tory. Few Amer­i­cans had ma­jor gripes with Wash­ing­ton’s govern­ing dur­ing the ’90s, when times were good. As the re­ces­sion saw many lose re­tire­ment funds and oth­ers their jobs, how­ever, more cit­i­zens be­gan re­assess­ing the global mar­ket­place with greater crit­i­cism. Why should our cor­po­ra­tions profit from a global econ­omy when the plant in town shuts down and puts hun­dreds out of work? Why should im­mi­gra­tion con­tinue un­fet­tered when there aren’t enough jobs for the peo­ple here?

Mean­while, the con­cern here about ter­ror­ism and na­tional se­cu­rity has grown pre­cip­i­tously in re­cent years with the growth of home­grown ter­ror­ism in in­ci­dents like the Bos­ton Marathon bomb­ing and shoot­ings in San Ber­nadino and Or­lando. Re­strict­ing the move­ment of peo­ple and in­creas­ing se­cu­rity mea­sures are how many cit­i­zens want their gov­ern­ments to re­act to such in­ci­dents.

The 2010s may be best re­mem­bered for the rise of pop­ulist move­ments from the Tea Party to Oc­cupy Wall Street, Black Lives Mat­ter to the Trump cam­paign. The last one that may end up hav­ing the great­est im­pact on the fu­ture of our coun­try if it con­tin­ues to grow.

Don­ald Trump, the pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, ac­tu­ally hap­pened to be vis­it­ing Bri­tain on the day of the Brexit vote. His cam­paign has largely been one that plays to na­tion­al­ist sym­pa­thies, trum­pet­ing plans to im­pose heavy tar­iffs to en­cour­age do­mes­tic pro­duc­tion, build a wall along Mex­ico to re­duce il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion and take the fight to en­e­mies over­seas to try to stamp out time for op­er­a­tional plan­ning of do­mes­tic at­tacks.

He was thrilled by the out­come of the Brexit vote, which should come as no sur­prise.

“Ba­si­cally, they took back their coun­try,” Trump said from Scot­land, where he was pro­mot­ing his golf cour­ses. “That’s a good thing.”

When asked where pub­lic anger was great­est, Trump said: “U.K. U.S. There’s plenty of other places. This will not be the last.” He may be right. Amer­ica will have its own “exit” ref­er­en­dum of sorts in Novem­ber. Will vot­ers choose to hold the steady sta­tus quo or vie for greater in­de­pen­dence from the global econ­omy and se­cu­rity state un­der a Trump White House?

It will be an in­ter­est­ing an­swer, re­gard­less of Amer­ica’s choice.

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