So, the UK is leaving the EU.
And France wants a referendum of its own.
British citizens voted yesterday in favor of Brexit, a referendum to take their country out of the European Union. Prime Minister Cameron resigned within a few hours of the vote, saying that the UK needed a new PM to lead the country through the transition ahead. There’s talk that Scotland, which voted to stay in the EU, might have another independence vote.
The run-up to the vote was marked by the assassination of Jo Cox, a pro-EU Member of Parliament, who was shot while getting out of her car in front of a public library. Her alleged murderer, Thomas Mair, is reported to have said “My name is death to traitors. Freedom for Britain,” when he was asked to state his name in court.
Back in April, President Obama basically made a fool of both himself and America by going to England and threatening the British people with economic reprisals if they voted for the referendum. I thought that the Brits were amazingly controlled in their response. If the Prime Minister of England came trotting over here and threatened the American people that way, he’d be lucky to make it home.
I think this bizarre and flat-out outrageous behavior on the part of our president shows just how far he’s slipped into fantasyland. We could build monuments to his hubris.
Meanwhile, political candidates in France, notably French National Front leader Marine Le Pin, called for Frexit, a French referendum vote on leaving the EU. This idea has considerable traction among French citizens.
According to polls, nearly half of Europeans want their own referendum vote on leaving the EU. Even former French President Sarkozy, who opposes leaving the EU, says that British citizens’ complaints were justified.
Meanwhile, the financial markets are taking a dip and politicians everywhere are looking at this vote with tea-leaf-reading interest. As always, they are asking themselves “what does this mean to me?”
I read a lot about the vote last night. I also watched live coverage from Britain. I saw continued obfuscation and high-handed analysis of what “the people” were concerned about when they voted. But I also heard British politicians on both sides of the debate talking about — get ready for this Americans — doing what was best for their country going forward.
I hope that they were sincere. If they were, I wish they could bottle that sincerity and donate it like a blood transfusion to American elected officials.
I know next to nothing about European politics. But I do know something about elections.
Yesterday’s election saw a voter turnout of slightly more than 70% of eligible UK voters. That turnout caused the professional pollsters to miss their mark on this one. In the lead-up to the election, pollsters predicted the referendum would lose.
But that large turnout tossed their polling results in the ashcan. The reason is that they were almost certainly polling “likely voters.” But Brexit turned out a lot of “unlikely voters.” The polls didn’t reflect these almost-never-vote voters’ sentiments for the simple reason that no one had asked them.
I said earlier that we could build monuments to President Obama’s hubris. I would add the members of the United States Supreme Court and many members of Congress to that column. It appears that the core issue that so many ordinary Europeans have with the EU is something similar to the reason for the increasing disconnect between the American people and the halls of power here in the USA.
That reason is the overweening disregard of and disrespect for the needs of the people on the part of those who govern them. It is reflected, not just in governing bodies, but in the halls of power in finance, industry and education that control governing bodies.
Prime Minister Cameron made an attempt to get the EU to modify its dictatorial manhandling of the British public, especially on the issue of immigration. He told EU governing powers that they needed to change to keep the UK. The EU unwisely chose to bully its way through and refuse to compromise.
I’m seeing the same sort of thing here in America. Our institutions ignore the will of the people. Election after election, we throw the jerks out, and then get whole new jerks, just like the old ones. The reason, as I’ve said repeatedly, is because we are just changing the puppets at the ends of the strings. We are not changing the puppet masters.
The vote to leave the EU appears to me to have been an attempt to change the puppet masters. Only time will tell if it succeeds.