Brexit & Heartbreak

The Whig party’s aversion to absolute monarchy in the early 18th Centrvl0002-01_0tury coined the term vox populi vox dei, which declared that the voice of the people is the voice of God. On June 23rd, the people of Britain spoke out and opted for the so-called Brexit, with the populist charlatan Nigel Farage characterizing the exit as a brave act of independence from the EU, as if the British people were suffering under a repressive, tyrannical reign for decades.

In the initial aftermath of the Brexit, alarming uncertainty and tension has filled the air: Markets are crumbling with a recession looming. The European political process will inevitably become more acrimonious as other Member States – relying on the new precedent established by the Brexit – will likely resort to using the exit as a threat to “negotiate” a more favorable position (not for the Union but for themselves). Even the process of how Britain will exit (assuming that the procedure will be based on Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty) will likely render unpleasantries and rancor with the remaining 27 Member States being able to “dictate” many of the terms regarding how Britain will exit.

The EU, even before the Brexit, was already facing a sustained and relentless crisis, but now that Britain has bailed on this failed marriage, things are about to get even worse: Confusion, distrust, and unease will likely spread across the EU and beyond as the first domino has – undeniably – fallen. While there is still a possibility for Britain to take the Norwegian route and to remain in the European Economic Area, this is a rather unlikely outcome (given that the populist gripe in the first place was mostly based on the somewhat erroneous assumption that the EU was “syphoning money away from the British people”).

Aside from the gloomy forecast and the uncertain future, it is particularly interesting to note the various similarities between the rising populist movements (mostly anti-EU) spreading across Europe and the US Presidential election: The two commonalities worth noting here is what some have referred to as the aversion of the experts and the emergence of the anti-establishment candidates (see e.g. the Five Star Movement in Italy or the presumptive US presidential nominee, Donald J. Drumpf).

What is particularly noteworthy is not just the decreasing trust in the traditional establishments, but the manipulability – or perhaps the gullibility – of the general electorate. This is not a symptom shared by one side of the political spectrum more than the other, but a common one all across: The tendency of the voting public to be so casually swayed by campaign slogans and political ads, which may not be entirely based on facts or reality is a grave cause for concern.

Often, the electorate succumbs to emotive arguments and fear mongering, which arguably paved the path for the Brexit and the rise of the Drumpf. Moreover, there is a growing myopathy amongst the populists that if they leave the EU or if they simply elect an anti-establishment candidate that somehow, things will change for the better. History, however, has shown us time and time again that simple solutions very rarely fix the underlying problems and that the voice of the people, is not necessarily that of God’s.

While breakups are tough, they also serve as a wake up call. Perhaps it brings attention to the things we may have been taking for granted. Just maybe, it forces us to find the errors in our ways, things we may have done wrong, and to take this heartbreak as an opportunity for reflection and an unexpected chance for growth previously unimagined. And while we may still be recoiling from the shock, what better way to start this introspection now by resisting our collective tendency to be swayed by emotional propaganda, to stop settling for the simple answers moving forward, and to get past the myopic thinking that have lead us astray. What better time to start than now?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.