. . . a victory for ordinary people, or Russian meddling?
. . . by a margin of 1.3 million votes, 52 to 48%, UK voters decide to leave the European Union
In a recent and highly charged referendum to decide whether or not the UK should remain within the 28 nation European Union (EU), a majority of British voters cast their ballot in favour of a British exit from the European political union. As a result, the prime minister has resigned, over 4 million people signed a petition calling for the referendum be repeated, and hundreds and hundreds took to the streets to show their support for remaining in the EU.
The primary reason the Brexit campaign won, was that those over 55 years old, a cohort of the population that has not benefitted largely from the Union and the globalization of the work force that has been its salient feature, and that population voted overwhelmingly to draw attention to that fact, by voting for UK exit from the EU political and economic union.
And, this is the discussion that must take place. How can continued participation in the union and the mantra of globalization, that tells us about the benefits, but very little about the workforces in Europe and North America that have not seen wage increases in decades. And, that is the discussion that must take place:
How do we make globalization and increased European integration benefit those who worked a lifetime, to build the society the young now enjoy, from being relegated to the scrap heap of the modern global economy.
The battle, the young must come to realize, is with those who use the multinational flow of money to their individual benefit, often with little regard to the effect on any one national economy, and not with their parents generation, who have borne the brunt of economic dislocation.
And, that discussion is not taking place.
Eric LaMont Gregory
... the will of the people is an instruction that must be followed, not only respected, but accepted, and it is the responsibility of leaders to help make it work Prime Minister, David Cameron, 24 June 2016
On the 23rd day of June 2016, the people of Great Britain voted to sever political ties within the 28-member European Union (EU).
Two groups of voters supporting British exit from the EU are readily discernible, those who have lost faith in establishment political and business leaders to consult on major issues such as immigration and the economy, and those largely mature voters (55+) that have lost and not gained from the growing tide of increased globalization.
In addition, the lack of a substantial campaign by the Labour Party in favor of continued UK participation in Europe was glaring.
It is accepted generally that the result of the Brexit referendum will have far-reaching (and in the mind of some dire) consequences, nonetheless a majority of British voters rejected the politics of fear, in favor of the politics of public engagement in discussions about the future direction of the United Kingdom.
One of the features of the debate by those favoring an exit vote, the winners, was that it included an argument for an examination of the business model, and the responsibility that businesses have to their own national economies. The idea is that the loss of control of national borders to super national sovereignty has meant a loss of control on what can enter (people), and also because businesses have embraced a super national trade environment dubbed globalization, citizens have lost control over what can leave (jobs).
Brexit, has brought about something that not even eight years of the Great Recession could, and that is the creation of a sizable proportion of the voting population over 55 who want to fundamentally examine capital movements, bank and business models (there are a lot of business models) and decision making, and the citizenship responsibilities of capital, bank, and business owners in general.
This aspect of the Brexit vote outcome will be the least discussed in the short term, but it is this aspect that will have the most enduring consequences in the medium and long term. And, for the banks and businesses whose activities are being brought under the microscope, their initial stance has been to organize a campaign to foster confusion and deflect most of the rather obvious criticisms back on to the critics. For example, those over 55s who voted overwhelmingly for Brexit were somehow misguided, since they cannot possibly know as much about the operation of the political economy as we (bank and business owners) do.
The reality of the idea that in a constitutional republic power lies in the will of the people, helped propel Trudeau to power in Canada, has given Trump the nomination of the Republican Party for president of the United States, and has now fundamentally altered the political and economic affairs of Great Britain, including Scotland and Northern Ireland, Europe and beyond, in ways that will not be settled for decades.
However, it is obvious that the highly politicized media in the US, Canada and the UK got it wrong. They had prepared for a close vote, and had scheduled a host of remain-in pundits to entertain the public with the wisdom of UK voters, who in the end would have come to accept what the political, governmental, bank, business, and media experts told them were the overwhelming benefits of the UK remaining in the European Union. This is the same conservative press that predicted a Harper win in the Canadian 2015 October election, believed that Jeb Bush would easily become the standard bearer of conservatives in the US, and that Cameron's reign and hold on power was altogether secure.
What the outcome, the vote to exit the EU, illustrates clearly is that the majority of the voting UK public rejected the idea that business as usual was in their best interests. And, that the political and government leaders who suggested that immigration, education, economic policy, health care, and liberty issues did not need to be discussed, had sorely misjudged the will of British citizens, and their counterparts in Canada and the United States.
The rejection by the voters of the way the political establishment in the UK wanted things to turn out, is part of a phenomenon sweeping the English-speaking world. The voters in Canada, the United States and now the UK insist that the major issues of the day are matters of public discussion and those discussions will take place, and the public will participate in a meaningful way.
The rejection of the advice of all 130 universities in the UK, who without exception favored a remain-in vote, and advised that staying in the EU was the only rational alternative for the British voter, bears scrutiny. Such an evaluation suggests that it was their own self-interests that the universities championed, and in doing so they abandoned their most cherished role in society - getting at the truth. And, that role was supplanted by campaigning for a yes vote, rather than a dispassionate look at the qualities of remaining in or leaving the EU, and not just for the glory of being on what they assumed would be the winning remain-in side of the argument, but the universities also stood to benefit enormously in terms of grants and other financial incentives available through continued participation in the EU.
The media has taken a rather humorous look at the immigration debate that Trump has led in his campaign for the nomination and has been equally dismissive of the discussion in the UK, but the people wanted to have that discussion, and in part, the unwillingness of the experts and their establishment handlers to engage the public's desire for meaningful discussions led to the present electoral outcomes.
The media approach is rather surprising when one considers that what Trump as well as the Independence Party in the UK realized, and polls confirm, is that nearly one-half of the voting public in the US and the UK want to participate in meaningful discussions about immigration policy, control of borders, European political and economic integration and the benefits or otherwise of rampant globalization.
In the US presidential campaign, Clinton and Trump exchange widely reported insults suggesting that their opponent has little in the way of a firm grasp on the foreign affairs, either diplomatic or military, of the United States. Arguing and reporting in this way deprives the voting public of the opportunity to question the candidates in earnest about issues which consume not only our attention, but a hefty amount of our other national human and material resources as well. Clinton must explain how the idiomatic folly, smart diplomacy, which came to prominence during the Clinton presidency as well as the doctrine of transformational diplomacy, which succeeded the smart diplomacy doctrine and was well in play at the time of Clinton’s ascension to the office of Secretary of State, has made what was a very challenging foreign affairs management bureaucracy, especially in relation to the transitional states of the Middle East and North Africa, a directionless one.
And for Clinton as Secretary of State, Rice posed a question that begs a thoughtful response, "It cannot be that the last three Secretaries of State (before Clinton) -- the daughter of European immigrants, the son of Jamaican immigrants and a daughter of the American segregated South -- would be more diverse than the Foreign Service with which they work." Diversity within the federal government, even with the proliferation of women as heads of federal agencies is still sorely lacking, and Clinton did nothing to change the illiberal culture of the US State Department.
Obama appointed a woman to head the Secret Service, but did nothing to change the discriminatory culture within that agency. And the current administration's ambassador to China makes a mockery of the notion that the Obama administration is committed to addressing social justice issues based on ethnicity.
Trudeau, the newly elected Liberal Prime Minister of Canada, must reconcile the appointment of a cabinet of equal numbers of women, with the shameful treatment of women serving within the fire services of Canada, a RCMP that perpetuates lackluster non-meritorious hiring policies, while at the same time, fails to enforce the law without ethnicity-laced prosecutorial bias (cruel and unusual punishment). And, while withholding essential equipment and training from its front-line officers, exposed a female informant to revenge attacks by those whose criminal activities she voluntarily brought to the attention of the RCMP with no other consideration than the safety of her own community. Trudeau must also address the fact that the CSIS has been headed for decades by a series of managers, who it can be argued have not exhibited one day in their entire careers when they could look out over Canada and see the rich tapestry of diversity which this nation so nobly represents, and therefore were unable to provide this nation, all Canadians, with the level of intelligence and security services that would otherwise be forthcoming.
The media, which for the most part has its own well-documented diversity shortcomings, concentrates its reporting on the exchange of insults and name-calling in the heated political debates on both sides of the Atlantic. This provides a wealth of entertaining sound bites for their broadcasts in the UK, US and Canada, but little in the way of analysis and insight into important issues.
As the Brexit referendum has shown, the media can no longer deprive an invigorated electorate of the opportunity to engage in the most important discussions of the most pressing issues of our age. While at the same time it is abundantly clear, that Trump has a responsibility to up his game and master the intricacies of US foreign policy and world affairs generally, to promote that debate and engage the public in a more meaningful way.
Anti-establishment sentiment today is such that no matter how much the US media tries to present (package) Paul Ryan as an establishment leader worthy of his present office, or the Canadian media Ambrose in her role as leader of the opposition, like their predecessors Boehner and Harper, Ryan and Ambrose have failed to demonstrate the capacity to meet the breath and width of the responsibilities (as with so many other media creations) of a Speaker of the House of Representatives of the US Congress, and leader of the opposition of the Canadian Parliament, respectively, given the challenging times of the second decade of the 21st century.
Brexit, is indeed a victory for ordinary people, and results from a purposeful determination to change the direction and to alter the course and the nature of current political discourse, in a manner that is both profound and enduring.
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Book by Eric LaMont Gregory. Read it before you vote for the next president of the United States.