The dust has not settled yet. Arguments rage as to what Brexit means. Was it the beginning of a populist revolution against the elites, or a triumph for xenophobia and suicidal narrow-mindedness? Or both? Walt will try to sort it out, and divine some lessons for North American politicians.
To begin with, it wasn't "the British" who voted to leave the European Union. The people of Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain. The people of Northern Ireland also chose the "in" side, although not so decisively. It was the English and the Welsh who wanted out of the dysfunctional European "community".
That doesn't mean, though, that the Scots and Ulsterpersons voted against resurgent nationalism. The Scots now appear to be in favour of separating from the Disunited Kingdom. A second refendum on the issue is expected in due course, giving the Scots an opportunity to stay in the EU and take control of their country back from the English. The people of Northern Ireland voted along nationalistic and sectarian lines, with the pro-UK Protestants voting with their compatriots in England, and the Catholics voting to remain in the EU, which might well entail uniting Ulster with Eire, at last. Sinn Fein has already called for a vote on that proposition.
So we see that nationalism was one of the key factors motivating the voters on both sides. Those who voted "Out" had other things in mind. This week's Economist cites polling done by Lord Ashcroft (a Conservative peer) which suggests that "opposition to multiculturalism, social liberalism, feminism, the green movement, the internet and capitalism all translated into votes for Brexit."
Euroscepticism is about more than immigration, says their columnist. "It is unmistakably cultural, ineffably emotional. There is a feeling, he writes, "that the world is increasingly unknowable and uncontrollable.... It also has to do with the wider world: fears of terrorism, the erosion of national identity, the erasure of borders (and) politicians in the grip of shadowy international forces." Hence the Leave campaign's winning slogan "It's time we took back control."
There would seem to be some hard lessons in there for the political and other elites of North America -- the USA more so than Canada, since Canucks won't get a chance to upchuck the Trudeau Koolaid until 2019. So let's see if any of the issues identified by Lord Ashdown are in play in the Land of the Free(?).
Nationalism versus globalism? Not a problem for La Clinton, since Americans don't seem to want their country to be great again. What about multiculturalism, social liberalism, feminism? What right-thinking person could be against those things? Look at all the "progress" that's been made under 7 years of Obama's maladministration. Who could want to undo that?
How about that green movement? Ah yes. Let's all put solar panels on our roofs, charge up our battery-powered cars and wind up our radios and TVs. Leave the oil in the ground. Decommission the nuclear power plants. (We know from The Simpsons how risky they are!) And will the last treehugger to leave the room please switch off the lights... Oh... wait...
I confess that I didn't understand Lord Ashdown's finding that those who voted "Out" were against the internet, unless he meant that to be a metaphor for "progress" generally. I'm all for the internet, insofar as it empowers the likes of YVT to get our ideas out there, in spite of the control of the lamestream media by the PC police and "shadowy international forces".
As for being against capitalism, if by that is meant resenting being in the thrall of the said "shadowy international forces" -- Hello Goldman Sachs! -- then I'm against that too. What about you? If you too are opposed to liberal globalism in all its guises, who are you going to vote for in November? The choice couldn't be more clear!
Further reading (on the last point, about globalization and capitalism): "Not just bigots and boors oppose trade deals" by Linda McQuaig in the Toronto Star.