Sunday, June 26, 2016

On Brexit and Melancholy

“Please give me a second grace
Please give me a second face
I've fallen far down
The first time around
Now I just sit on the ground in your way”

-       Nick Drake, “Fly”

There is no doubt, in our newly post-Brexit World, that many “Leave” voters are re-assessing the wisdom of their vote.  Based on interviews obtained with that slice of the electorate, a buyer’s remorse has settled in amongst those who either did not really wish for a “Leave” win…and/or those who did not fully appreciate the consequences of what promises to be a protracted and painful separation.

The regional results show solid “Remain” victories in Scotland, London, and Northern Ireland, all 55%+. “Leave” pulled out majorities in every other area, with the West Midlands (59.3%) and the East Midlands (58.8%) leading the way.

It is unknown, at this writing, what this outcome means…if anything… for ostensibly “populist” sovereignty movements in other Western democracies.   Donald Trump’s brand of nativism struck a chord with some American voters, but the force of his personality muddies the issue.  Is nationalism rampant again or are we foundering about in our quest for security and identity in a post 9/11 world?  Is simplistic triumphalism our yana of the moment…a raft that millions of Americans are grasping out of some deep fear about who we are and where we are headed? 

There was , of course, a generational split with the E.U. referendum, with older voters more likely to cast their ballots in favor of “Leave.”  Given GOP antipathy toward deeply-embedded initiatives such as Social Security and Medicare, it is unlikely that the Republicans can cobble together a sizable enough percentage of 65+ voters to offset their likely defeat amongst the Millennial and Generation X cohorts.  But it is early and we don’t yet know the strength of the Clinton General Election campaign…nor the ability of Trump to connect with an unnerved electorate.

Who knows?  Perhaps there will be another referendum in the months ahead asking U.K. voters if they should rejoin the E.U.   But in America, we don’t have snap elections.  We have to live with our election outcomes for certain fixed time intervals, and that is a sobering thought indeed.   
“Now if it’s time for recompense for what’s done
Come, come sit down on the fence in the sun
And the clouds will roll by
And we’ll never deny
It’s really too hard
For to fly” – Nick Drake, “Fly”

Stay tuned, as more will follow.

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