Friday, June 24, 2016

Which time shall ne'er destroy, nor bounds confine.

Trying to be optimistic on Brexit but it's hard. The fallout from this should send shivers down the spine of anyone contemplating the day after a Trump presidential win. The shock from two of the world's most influential forces voting to flee back to isolationism clearly pays no benefits, and as Brits are discovering this morning, some of the promises the Leave campaign made were false (more money for health care). So hopefully here at least we wake up a bit. A lot of people said Trump would never be the nominee. A lot of people said the UK would never vote itself out. Well.
One possible benefit is the prospect of a united Irleand as the North has voted resolutely to stay in the EU. Scotland and Northern Ireland have made rumblings about leaving the UK in the take of this, which I think have to be taken seriously. David Cameron didn't take the first Scottish referendum seriously and nearly pissed away the empire then; apparently he learned nothing from it. On the down side, in the near term, Ireland has to decide if it's going to reinstate border checks with the North. The EU zone removed what was once one of the more bitter divides in Europe. It's disheartening to think checkpoints would return in Ireland. It's likely unfortunately, but perhaps in the long term the North will find its way back to Ireland proper. That's been pie in the sky since the partition, but nothing can be ruled out in a world where the forces of extreme nationalism have torn the UK to shreds and threaten to do the same here.
As it happens I've met quite a few Brits in the last few days and to a person they're all Remain, and expressed doubt this would come to pass. It's the same kind of doubt I've heard about Trump and his brand of politics since he blundered his way on stage. We need a strong EU as an ally, especially with the resurgence of a nationalistic Russia, and of course, ISIS. There are a lot of valid reasons to question the direction of the EU. There are a lot of valid reasons to question policies here at home which have adversely affected people at the expense of global trade. There are no valid reasons to reject togetherness and cooperation. There are no valid reasons to close borders and build walls. Identity matters. Clearly. This morning the British are asking themselves who they are. Are they still Brits? In a couple years, likely no. 
What it means to be an American has meant many things over the years, but one thing it has always meant is liberty for all. Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. I hope we remember that as we vote in November, and as we move forward in a world which seems to crumble around us.