Krishnadev Calamur – The Atlantic:
Members of Parliament are expected to vote Wednesday to grant Prime Minister Theresa May approval to trigger Brexit, a process to launch two years of talks with the European Union on the U.K.’s future relationship with the bloc.
Sort of a revolving door among the special relationshipers these days. Britains’s populist vote to leave the European Union last year presaged America’s election of a populist bull in a china shop.
The British high court ruled, however, that Parliament must decide the issue, so we were back to square one in the UK until today. But the vote is in: Leave.
(Worth noting: the Scots and the Welsh say, “Remain.” There’s an ugly family brawl in the offing upon the British Isles now that Theresa May’s Conservative party has had its way. Be well, friends, be well.)
Here’s the problem with “Brexit,” and the division of Americans along whichever lines you believe relevant. It is these divisions, these fault lines upon which European wars raged over the centuries, and along which the United States fought its own civil war one hundred and fifty years ago. The act of banding European nations together in a common economic market, followed by a political union and, yes, eventually a political hegemony was intended as a curb against the violent outcomes of nationalism.
I can hear the words of my seventh-grade social studies teacher, the late Joe Desi, explain the causes of World War I. He summed them up in an acronym: MAIN. Militarism, Alliances, Imperialism, and Nationalism. Call Brexit and Mr. Trump a vote for nationalism.
Militarism has never left us – the Cold War’s end didn’t bring an end to armies and armaments. There’s too much money to be made.
Alliances, well, we still have those, and most are in favor of western-style democracy. The West won the Cold War, after all. All that can change very quickly. See: Turkey.
Imperialism is dead, replaced by kleptocracy at home. See: Russia in the Putin era.
As Britain goes, I think, so will go other European nations aggrieved of one thing or another in the EU Constitution, or as a rejection of lost sovereignty, or against the disparity between productivity and attitudes about worker’s rights. The north of Europe is a different animal than is the south.
And what of Americans? Are we headed for divisions deep enough to spark talk of secession? No.
Our differences are interwoven among us county-by-county, or more accurately, person-by-person. A state-by-state image isn’t nearly as instructive as the finer-grained county image.
Most states east of the Mississippi River couldn’t find a common line of divide to save their souls. Ditto the inter-mountain West and west coast, save Nevada, Wyoming, and Utah. Even Texas would have trouble going one way or the other. The Great Plains, well, they ain’t so great. They’d mostly go one way.
Here’s the rub: we’re not divided geographically in convenient ways anymore. Half of Americans live in urban or suburban counties. Small land area, large population centers. These counties vote Left. The rest, mostly Right. The US isn’t coming apart any time soon.
So we’re stuck with one another in the US. We’ve had our shit-fit, and are but one week into the repercussions.
I have no conclusion, no summing-up. America is, for better and mostly worse, stuck with what we’ve wrought, stuck with the tantrum of the left-behind despite little evidence the left-behind made any effort to mitigate their left-behindedness. Maybe they were too busy waiting for those factories to re-open.
We must help ourselves, for there is no help otherwise.
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