By Dick Polman –
With apologies to the climactic song in “Les Miserables,” here are the self-destructive Brits who voted yesterday to exit the European Union. Cue the music!
Do you hear the people sing
Singing the song of angry men
We will crash the British pound
Against the dollar and the yen,
When the pounding in our brains
Echoes the poison in our guts
That is when the world will know
That we’re going nuts.
That’s what happens when voters surrender to their basest instincts. One “Brexit” voter, identified only as Adam, told the BBC, “I’m shocked and worried. I voted Leave but…I never thought it would actually happen.” A like-minded voter said on TV, “This morning I woke up and the reality did actually hit me, if I had the opportunity to vote again, it would be to stay.”
Too late, fools! You voted for xenophobic nationalism, to wall off your country from the rest of the EU and spark massive turmoil in the global markets. You’ve lit the flame of recession at home and abroad, you voted to imperil the ties that bind Europe’s anti-terrorism intelligence agencies and triggered a crisis that will likely destabilize the EU and embolden Vladimir Putin.
Americans should pay close attention to what is transpiring – and unraveling – in Britain right now. It’s a warning shot across our bow, a harbinger of what could happen here if we surrender to our basest instincts and elect Donald Trump.
The voters of what’s called “Little England” – a rough parallel to what we call “middle America” – hoisted a middle finger to immigration and globalization. Dire warnings about the consequences of exiting the EU failed to penetrate the intellect because these people were bent on voting with their gut.
Swayed by the xenophobic demagoguery of Mini Me Trump agitators like former London mayor Boris Johnson and Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, they convinced themselves that they were “Making Britain Great Again.” We’ll see how that goes when international financial institutions start pulling out of London.
Farage and his “Leave” campaign caught fire with his repeated claim that immigration has made traditional Britain “unrecognizable,” and that open borders with the EU have turned the “white working class” into “an underclass.” (Who does that sound like?)
He also sold the voters snake oil, promising that if Britain left the EU, it would free up lots of extra money for the national health program – in American dollars, roughly $500 million a week. But when asked on TV whether he can guarantee that promise, Farage admitted, “No I can’t…It was one of the mistakes I think the Leave campaign made.”
Yep, that pledge was just pap for the saps, and they bought it.
Into the aftermath of the “Brexit” walks Trump, seeking to take political advantage. (Two weeks ago he had no idea what Brexit was – “Huh?” he asked as he struggled to talk about it) In Scotland Friday morning, after praising the greatness of his golf course, right down to the plumbing, Trump said of the Brits:
“They have declared their independence from the European Union and have voted to reassert control over their own politics, borders and economy. Come November, the American people will have the chance to re-declare their independence. Americans will have a chance to vote for trade, immigration and foreign policies that put our citizens first. They will have the chance to reject today’s rule by the global elite, and to embrace real change that delivers a government of, by and for the people. I hope America is watching, it will soon be time to believe in America again.”
There it was, his autumn campaign pitch. To follow our misguided British cousins into the abyss, all we need do is to stay home on election day, to cede the future to the forces of Trumpism.
At the end of “Les Miserables,” the people sang “There is a life about to start when tomorrow comes.” It’s coming soon. How do we want to live it?
Dick Polman is the national political columnist at NewsWorks/WHYY in Philadelphia (newsworks.org/polman) and a “Writer in Residence” at the University of Pennsylvania. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright 2016 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
© 2016, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.