“No government, no organisation, no citizen can afford to be less than vigilant in combating bigotry, intolerance and hatred. And frankly, our way of life depends on that vigilance.” — Barry O’Farrell
I have to confess that watching the Brexit mess continue to unfold has left me stunned – it’s like all of my worse imaginings have come to pass. And it’s like the specter of a Donald Trump presidency looming larger. There were many similarities involved in the tactics used by the ‘leave’ faction and those used by the Trump crowd (and in the justifications of his more moderate supporters). Particularly in the expressed desire to retain nationalistic control – of the borders, of the economy, of production. No, not everyone who voted to leave the EU was xenophobic. And not all of Trump’s supporters are racist. Painting people with too broad a brush only serves to confuse the issues. But it would be disingenuous to pretend that the vocal minority does not exist – and that they are emboldened by every perceived ‘win’. And in this case, they’ve had a tremendous one. And it was a win that perhaps no one, not even the proponents, really expected. So after the win, it became necessary to ‘clarify’ some of the expected gains, and to set more realistic expectations. And a confused population that never expected the results that they got, and now see that this is not really a benefit, are petitioning the government for an opportunity to vote again – with the requirement for a stronger turnout. And yes, that was part of the problem – a close vote where only 72% of the eligible population voted. Are you paying attention here at home? Not voting, which is appallingly normal in US elections, could yield incredibly poor results in November – unless you look forward to President Trump.
The short-term results are worse than expected, with numerous reports of hate crimes, particularly lodged at against Polish immigrants, and racism coming on the heels of the vote. This is will likely pass, but the damage done will take a very long time to recover from. World financial markets, which were ill prepared for a result that was not expected, were in free-fall on Friday. And are likely to continue to remain unstable for the foreseeable future.
And presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, had the audacity to applaud the results. In Scotland, no less. Even if you find his diplomatic gaffes (or total lack of diplomacy) refreshing, and even if you subscribe to some of his more interesting world views, surely it is becoming obvious by now that the man has no clue how finance, and global economics, work. He has said little concrete about what his policies or plans would be, but the little he has said is terrifying when it comes to the economy (paying our debts for 80 cents on the dollar? So much for savings bond holders – or t-bill investors – and for our ability to ever borrow again). And he clearly does not want to understand that actions, like breaking up international organizations, have long-term consequences. And some damning short-term ones, as well.
And sadly, this nationalistic march continues on, with extreme right political leaders in other European nations now calling for their own referendums. The EU is a complicated thing, and one that is not without severe downsides for its wealthier, more stable, members, but the problems will not be solved by a mass exodus. And it is something that voters in the US need to watch, and learn from.
And the Trump apologists in the GOP would do well to heed these words of Noah Webster’s:
“When a citizen gives his suffrage to a man of known immorality he abuses his trust; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country.”
Image taken from a post earlier today by Yvonne Spence on the 1000 Voices for Compassion Facebook page – the pledge was made by Fiona Owen. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1000Speak/?ref=ts&fref=ts