Lessons of Brexit

The US can learn a lot from the Brexit vote

… and their buyer’s remorse started the very next day as a Leave supporter started a petition for a do-over. Almost 4 million signatures have been gathered.

The obvious lesson is that votes should be informed and carefully considered before they are cast.

… because in the US, we don’t get do-overs. A card laid is a card played.

36 thoughts on “Lessons of Brexit

    1. I can appreciate your concern. And I’m afraid the Brexit vote will fuel “Leave” -minded voters in the US who seem determined to support and elect Donald Trump.

    1. It is a point worth arguing. On its face the Brexit mess seems to be a good example of why complex decisions should be made by experts and not the emotional whims of crowds. On the other hand, it occurs to me that Brexit will be an interesting social and economic experiment. Globalization means ethnic homogenization and cheap goods fueled by the exploitation of third-world workers. Reverting to nationalism rejects that and will likely lead to austerity and higher prices. That may have a silver lining – more jobs for British citizens. Brits may find out whether production jobs are worth higher prices.

      1. I hate to think of the future of a nation being reduced to ” an interesting social and economic experiment.” But I guess when you’ve been in the EU for decades, it’s hard to know for sure what breaking away will mean. Personally I’ve always leaned toward nationalism.

    2. We have referendums in Colorado and I have mixed feelings about them. I suppose it depends on whether you’re for or against a particular initiative and whether or not it passes.

  1. It was not the “British” voters that voted to exit, it was the ENGLISH; the Scots and the Irish wanted to stay, and therein lies the big problem as far as I can see.

    The Scots will no doubt seek another referendum on seperation from England, and try to stand alone ( push the sales of Whisky Galore); the Northern Irish might also try to seperate from England and unite with Eire, which leaves poor little Wales stuck on the west coast of England, a Principality forever tied to England, singing away merrily as is their wont. Have you every heard the Welsh Male Voice Choir sing their national anthem, makes the blood tingle, more inspiring than the Star Spangled Banner which comes a close second tied with the French National anthem.

    The Scots and Irish can then if they wish apply to join the EU as seperate countries (which is what they really are) but then the problem arises of border protection; up north, perhaps,they can rebuild Hadrians Wall , and “the donald” who seems keen on wall building might lend a hand. Then again he may not, he has a set of golf links in Scotland I believe.

    All quite jolly really; I wonder what the other Queen Elizabeth would make of it all, probably gather her Admirals and ships together to stave off another Armada! 😈

    Having a look at all this codswallop I should have posted it as a blog! XD, XD 😉

    1. The Brexit vote certainly opened one gigantic can of worms. I don’t think even the most educated economists and politicians can predict for sure what’s going to happen now.

  2. Canada’s Rex Murphy wrote this about Brexit: “There is a price for governing from on high, for being detached from voters’ expressed concerns and anxieties, and for characterizing those concerns and anxieties always as small-minded, or proceeding only from anti-liberal biases, or xenophobia and racism. Might it not also be possible that people in turbulent times, in an uncertain economy, increasingly apprehensive that their leaders are not listening to them and do not care to listen, will finally decline to follow those leaders?” Seems to be the case in the U.S. too…

    1. Still working on my coffee, I overlooked the phrase “about Brexit” and thought the comment was about the US. That’s how similar I think the situations are. And while the election of Donald Trump might not have the global implications of Brexit, it would mean 4 years of dangerous uncertainty under the leadership of a man “temperamentally unsuited” to be president.

    2. Margie…you have a good point. Do you think there is a lesson to be learned from this right here in America..Listen up Washington!

      1. I think it is a case of ‘Listen up, everybody’. It isn’t just Washington – it’s every citizen who thinks the average Joe hasn’t got the intelligence to vote in a referendum, let alone an election…

        1. Any average Joe — or even a child — can check a box on a ballot. It doesn’t mean they are thoughtful enough to study the issues and consider the consequences before voting. Yes, they have the right to vote, but there’s definitely cause for concern with a man like Trump on the ballot.

  3. I think there’s a valuable lesson here for folks in the constitutional republic of the US who believe that having a majority of voters supporting some institutional change means that the majority gets their way.

    The lesson is this: Some things aren’t within the privy of the government to do because those things are prohibited by the constitution.

    Of course, in the US constitution there is no prohibition against a states secession, however, as we learned from Abraham Lincoln, you will be killed if you try.

          1. Seems I remembered incorrectly then. Right now, both Yahoo Answers and Wikipedia are telling me that the Constitution doesn’t allow secession, and Wikipedia claims that the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to secede in Texas vs. White.

          2. In a nutshell…

            The main body of the US Constitution describes how and what the government is allowed to do. The first ten amendments (The so called “Bill of Rights”, but more accurately should be called the “Bill of Prohibitions”) describe what the government is NOT allowed to do.

            In neither is succession mentioned.

            Our Supreme Court isn’t infallible.

          3. In Texas vs White, the court decided that the Constitution did not permit states to unilaterally secede from the union. In the original text of the decision, I think the relevant portion is:

            By these [Articles of Confederation] the Union was solemnly declared to “be perpetual.” And when these Articles were found to be inadequate to the exigencies of the country, the Constitution was ordained “to form a more perfect Union.” It is difficult to convey the idea of indissoluble unity more clearly than by these words. What can be indissoluble if a perpetual Union, made more perfect, is not?


            … The Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union, composed of indestructible States.

            When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation. All the obligations of perpetual union, and all the guaranties of republican government in the Union, attached at once to the State. The act which consummated her admission into the Union was something more than a compact; it was the incorporation of a new member into the political body. And it was final.

          4. 100 percent correct, Pied. But, the words in the relevant portions assume a fact not in evidence. That is, to say that “A more perfect union” would be one where membership was even more involuntary than before. And… to assume that the Constitution did not replace the “Articles of Confederation.” Pure self serving hogwash.

          5. As is so often the case, the court had to interpret what the founders intended. It concluded that the founders intended the union to be indissoluble. Secession violates that intent and thus is unconstitutional. Like it or not, that interpretation is law unless and until a subsequent court decision rescinds it.

    1. I agree. You vote to leave, you leave. Lock, stock, and barrel. Don’t look back and don’t let the door hit you in the rear. Can’t imagine the EU granting anything but a cold shoulder.

        1. Frankly I’ve not paid a lot of attention to the EU’s reaction, and I don’t know if Britain’s departure would be a big deal or not — unless other countries start following suit. Merkel’s always struck me as being very dignified and polite, a genuine stateswoman, whether she’s annoyed or not.

  4. I’m glad the topic of secession arose. I was prompted to visit a number of articles on it, including the one in Wikipedia which I consider remarkably good and comprehensive of the others. What surprises me is the legall uncertainty of the matter. A good case can be made, I think, for either side, and as Ima implies, it is the precedent of the Civil War that towers above all other arguments, including those about what the founders really thought and what the Articles of Confederation implied.

    On this Independence Day I find myself musing about what history might have looked like had the South successfully seceded or if Lincoln had lost the nomination or the election? Would either nation have participated in the Spanish-American war or World War I? Would Hawaii have even become a state? Would the South have also declared war after Pearl Harbor? Perhaps the Japanese might not have attacked at all, a divided America being less of a threat to its ambitions. (My concern for how easily events can overtake mere arguable law were heightened by having just finished season 4 of House of Cards.)

    Would Europe now be part of the Third Reich? I think it not only possible, but likely. WW II was a close thing and it all hung on a knife edge on June 6, 1944, even with the combined strength of a United American military.

    1. It’s a fascinating topic, and given the changes we’ve seen in the world just in our lifetimes, it’s almost impossible to guess what would have happened. If the union had split, where would the border actually be? What of the states that joined the union after the Civil War? Would they have picked sides, or would they have perhaps formed a third country in the west. And what would have become of slavery? All of Europe as the Third Reich? I can’t even imagine what that would be like. Hawaii might have become part of Japan and Alaska, a country in itself.

      We’ve a lot more to celebrate on the 4th than just the independence of the thirteen colonies.

... and that's my two cents