Red Winged Black Bird on a fence post in a field.

The Lessons of Brexit


Category: politics

A little over half of the United Kingdom just voted to leave the European Union. The fallout is still to be determined, of course. Though I don't actually have any say in the matter, not being British, I still think of leaving as a stupid move. Someone I know argues that the Brits have simply voted to maintain their sovereignty and that is a good thing. That argument misses the point.

Imagine that you have a tray in front of you and on the tray there is a fork and there is a flower. You are presented with the choice to either smell the flower or to stick the fork in your eye. You may say that it is your right to choose. I will not argue that point; it is definitely your right to choose. However, if you choose to stick the fork in your eye, I am going to call you a moron. (Actually, I probably won't use such a family-friendly word.)

Having sovereignty doesn't automatically require that you be be separate. You have the right to get into cooperative partnerships that benefit you. Choosing to break such partnerships just to spite your partners is probably not in your best interest. It earns you the same respect that you would have gotten from sticking a fork into yourself.

Since the vote, reports of racial and xenophobic crimes have increased in England. That tells you a bit about the ones who really wanted to get out of the E. U. At that point, you may want to ask yourself if you want to side with those people. If you have to ask, "Those people are really horrible; am I one of them?" you may want to rethink your position.

You may be wondering what business it is of mine. That's a good question too. Here are your answers. First, as you may have heard, this exit has caused great disruption to the world economy. An economy only works if everyone is playing by the same set of expected rules. When the rules change, people get nervous and stop playing. In this particular case, no one knows what the new rules are going to be yet. It is going to take a while for all of this to settle down.

Second, rises in nationalism, particularly when accompanied by xenophobic violence, has had a bad history on this planet. It wasn't that long ago that perfectly rational people elected One-Nut to power. (Technically they elected his party to power and the party elected him chancellor and things just got a little crazy from there.) It doesn't take much to stampede normal people into wholesale, stupid violence.

The third reason this concerns me is that many of the people who voted to leave have characteristics of loud, angry people in the United States. I have to wonder if this encourages the locals or if they can learn from the Brits. In general, I don't associate learning with these particular people. There is a good chance that we could have a little exit from good sense of our own.

Regardless of where you stand on the Brexit, or the upcoming American elections, you can probably agree that people should do some thinking before they vote. Representative government works best when the voters are informed about the subject or person they are voting on. Fortunately, I have enough nihilism in me to not worry about it too much.

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