In an unprecedented 52% to 48% decision, citizens of the U.K. voted to leave the European Union – the first of the 28 nations to do so since the establishment of the single market after WWII. The departure of Britain from the EU has global ramifications both economically and politically, but the decision to leave was neither wholly one of economics nor politics – it was a social reaction to immigration, diversification, and the socialization of the “other” stemming from deep seated nationalism, xenophobia, and elitism. Pay attention America.
Nigel Farage, former member of the British Conservative Party and founder of the U.K. Independence Party will go down in history as the man who led Britain’s exit out of the EU. If Farage was the architect of Brexit, and Brexit is the blueprint to make Britain “Great” again (puns wild), Donald Trump is Farage’s long lost American brother separated at birth, and the Trump Campaign is America’s impending referendum to further isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. The parallels are startling.
Farage made immigration the defining issue of Brexit highlighting “Britain’s inability to write and enforce its own laws – particularly EU laws that permit the entry of immigrants at a time when the number of Middle East refugees seeking solace in Europe is growing,” writes Peter Schroeder of The Hill. The BBC reports that, “The issue fed into wider questions of national and cultural identity, which suited Leave’s message – particularly to lower income voters. The result suggested that concerns about levels of migration into the UK over the past 10 years, their impact on society, and what might happen in the next 20 years were more widely felt and ran even deeper than people had suspected.”
Sound familiar? From day 1, the Trump campaign has spread a message of divisiveness and hate for the other, through proposals of erecting a wall at the U.S.- Mexico border, and instituting a nationwide ban on the entry of Muslims and refugees. How ironic is it that Britain, a country that colonized (infiltrated) the world now wants everyone else to stay out of their country? How comical is it that a rich white American man married to an immigrant, proposes a ban on immigrants? And then there’s those of us who don’t support Trump, but don’t want refugees entering our communities either; but we are the first to declare that “if Trump is elected president, I’m immigrating to another country.” Funny. And yet Brexit shows us that what was once a far-fetched scenario can in fact be a reality. Pay attention America.
Pay attention to the Brexit polls data that shows that although the referendum to leave the EU passed, major cities like London – where younger, more progressive, more diverse, more educated citizens reside- voted to stay, whereas turnout was dominated by older, lower income, less diverse (more white), less educated citizens in rural areas who voted to leave. Now recall that the U.S. Republican Party – and Trump specifically – is supported by older, white, lower income voters in rural communities who read on average at or below a 4th grade level, then tell me why a Trump presidency is still so unlikely? PAY ATTENTION.
The referendum turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million people voting – the highest turnout in a UK-wide vote since the 1992 general election. It is a matter of fact that the older you are, the more likely you are to make the effort to vote, both in the U.K. And the U.S. In the 2015 British election, 78% of eligible voters 65 or over voted, compared with 43% of 18-24 year olds and 54% of 25-34 year olds. Fast-forward to the Brexit vote and three out of every five voters aged 65 or over said they wanted to leave. To date, neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton, the presumptive nominees for their respective parties, have polled well with young voters throughout the U.S. presidential election season, but Bernie Sanders has done exceptionally well with this demographic. Today he announced that he would be voting for Hillary in November, because he understands what’s at stake and will do anything to stop Trump. Likewise it will be necessary for Sanders’ young base to turnout in large numbers in November to prevent “USxit” under the leadership of Trump. Pay Attention America.
Brexit is a prelude of what’s to come if we fail to get in formation against Trump. The hate speech; the misplaced nationalism; the Islamophobia wrapped in a larger cloak of xenophobia; the chants to “Make America Great Again” which is code for “Make America White Again” with the exception of *my* “good” African Americans; the vitriol that the Trump campaign has both exposed and produced – could also be seen leading up to the EU referendum. The grisly murder earlier this month of “pro-stay” British politician Jo Cox casted a dark cloud over this high-stakes vote as her killer shouted “freedom for Britain” before the court; no doubt a hate crime and act of terrorism in the name of a country that has since slipped into the shadow of a Brussels centered European Union. Freedom comes at a price, however. Lost in the Brexit decision is Britain’s intention to also withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights and repeal the Human Rights Act which protects all Brits in domestic court; Britain will likely then draft its own Bill of Rights, but details of the proposal for the Bill of Rights have not yet been made public according to Rights Info. Are you listening?
Brexit was not a political referendum. Britain’s exit from the EU is not an economic revolution. Brexit = “Make Britain Great Again”, and if we know what’s good for us, we’ll pay close attention before President Donald Trump is drafting a new U.S. Bill of Rights to make America great again.
Do I have your attention now?