How is it that the United Kingdom is so unprepared to leave the European Union? Seems the “establishment” of the UK was as surprised at the vote outcome as the Republicans were when Romney lost the last Presidential election.
I, along with a bunch of other people, cannot help but make the parallel with the denial and subsequent shock the country, including his political party, experienced when Donald Trump became the Republican presumptive nominee.
Donald Trump enjoys a big following of voters who are tired of the “establishment,” want someone “who tells it like it is,” and promises he will return manufacturing and coal miner jobs so ruthlessly taken from them.
He captivates them with his shared belief that it is those who are different that have taken or will take their futures away. He taps into and makes it safe to be afraid because he will fix it. How is not clear.
The similarities are astonishing. I could not resist exploring the motivations of the beleaguered voter hungry for change. I keep hearing a call to change it, just change it. Leaving the EU was handy.
This isn’t working!
According to the Financial Times, 17,410,742 UK citizens voted to leave the EU and 16,141,241 voted to stay, a difference of about 1.3 million people. We’d call that pretty decisive.
Yet, there seems to be at least a verbal stumbling around about just how this will work. The one who seemed to get it was Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron who immediately announced that he would resign soon. He more or less said, “I’m out of here, I’m not going to lead this.”
His leaving Brexit to someone else to navigate seems to be the only plan. There is no plan ahead and no head to plan as if it never occurred to him it would pass.
The fact that Cameron and the conservatives won a solid majority in the 2015 election in part by saying they would hold an election on leaving the EU should have been a clue. Sure, he tried to talk everyone out of leaving but not having the slightest intention to accomplish the will of the people seems a bit of a bait and switch.
News about the consequences began to surface such as Brits will no longer have open travel from the UK to EU countries. Election promises that money now going to the EU would go into the National Health Service could not or would not be kept.
Interviewers found people alleged to be suffering from buyer’s remorse. “It was a protest vote. I didn’t expect it to pass.” One young women alleged that old people (not in London) destroyed her future opportunities.
A petition to vote again has garnered about 3 million signatures which is less than 10 percent of the total votes cast and, for all we know, they all voted to stay. People a lot more in the know than I say a revote is unlikely.
This done deal has put the UK and the world into a swirl of unknown and some likely unintended consequences. Why was exiting the EU the answer for over 17 million people of the UK?
The drill down has begun and does it look familiar. Informed analyzers and observers tell us that many of the “leave” voters live in rural areas, have lost jobs or income growth, keenly feel the cutbacks in service and feel cut out of the prosperity enjoyed by others.
The long waits for appointments resulting from government imposed austerity cuts and increased demand in the National Health Service are frequently mentioned as an escalating frustration.
Seems the government failed to expect or plan for the influx of immigrants fleeing the Middle East who further pressured the system.
Whether we agree or not with the premise, we can understand the perspective of those who believe a large part of their problems is caused by newcomers who are using services as well as taking jobs from historically loyal citizens.
I happen to believe it is a failure of government at the elected level, officials who aren’t listening to ordinary people.
We have our own version of establishment and political betrayal in our country. Unlike the UK, the USA did not install an austerity plan as rigid as the UK, but we do have congressional gridlock that has stalled any investment in the people who lost jobs to technology or plant transfers or in rebuilding a decaying infrastructure.
Concurrently, there has been and is an active campaign to destroy faith in institutions of learning, government or otherwise. It extends to the destruction of faith in science, knowledgeable experts and any government programs.
In some areas, people have voted for officials that promise to dismantle Medicare as we know it and pare back Social Security and other government programs that provide services.
In our own community, we have a growing mistrust in public education and failed school bonds to improve facilities as a result.
Change it, just change it; it’s not working. Some of us are like a bystander unable to keep up in a world that markets $45,000 Tiffany watches to some and Walmart China-made watches to the rest of us.
Change it, just change it; it’s not working. Some of us live in fear every day; the kind of fear that becomes chronic and needs relief. What’s handy here for relief?
Is it the bright shiny object that promises we will be amazed by his ability to solve every problem for those that belong in our country?
Is it the seasoned policy and planning wonk that promises the strength, strategy and ability to get her plans in motion?
There are comparisons to be made and lessons to learn. I think our leaders in local, state and federal positions should do the hard work starting with honesty with all of us voters.
Don’t promise what you can’t deliver or won’t work hard to accomplish.
Tell us just how you intend to approach these very complicated problems in this complicated time.
It’s not working like it should. Consequences should not result only in sacrifices by those without the power to effect a change.
Pay attention. We just witnessed the power of the determined voter who is hungry for change at the ballot box.
Bertha D. Cooper is retired from a 40-plus year career as a health care administrator focusing on the delivery system as a whole. She still does occasional consulting. She is a featured columnist at the Sequim Gazette. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.