Today the UK–or at least Britain– seceded from the European Union. Apparently Scotland and North Ireland are rather more on the fence about the decision, which means the United Kingdom itself may be fractured as the other two countries within the UK try to decide what they’re going to do regarding their relationship with Britain and the EU, respectively. It’s an unprecedented historical moment.
Suddenly all those states with secession movements are a lot less funny.
The value of the British pound has plummeted across the globe. The question of British nationals studying, working, and living abroad on EU visas, and EU nationals living, working, and studying in the UK on EU visas is now of serious concern. Apparently, there are quite a few EU-related scholarship, civil service, and research fund grants to consider, as well.
In the coming months top economic experts predict Britain will suffer a sucking whirlpool of loss in economics, trade, and labor. I suspect there will be a substantial brain-drain, too, as UK-educated EU nationals living and working in Britain return to their home countries and families.
David Cameron warned, to general mockery, that Brexit would increase the risk of war. I dunno. I’m somewhat comforted by all the policy articles pointing out that NATO is more instrumental in keeping international peace, but still … the last time in history a major unified coalition of state powers disagreed so much on internal trade and human rights issues that an internal faction attempted to assert independence and leave the coalition while citing racist dogma, it did in fact lead to war. So it’s not like war is exactly unprecedented in this situation, and a lot of lives have been upended in entirely unexpected ways– plus, the situation in Ireland, as I understand it, wasn’t exactly stable before Brexit.
I feel a bit sick, watching it play out. I’ve been on and off messaging with my friend in the UK, discussing the repercussions. The old joke of, “Oh, I’ll move to X country if the vote goes this or that way,” has suddenly become a real consideration. As a doctor, it’s actually a possibility for her: She would pass the immigration requirements for necessary work.
The worst part is that in the hours after the referendum passed, a certain google search spiked in Britain: What is the EU?
Isn’t that heartbreaking? Voting for something without even realizing what it is? According to Brexit vote demographics of the Brexit vote, if it was up to the 18-49 age range, they would have stayed. The 18-24 cohort voted by an overwhelming 75% to remain, and the 25-49 was a more lukewarm but still solid 56% remain vote. It was the elderly generation– those 50 and older– who decisively swung the vote to leave, and the really sick irony of it is that they’re not going to have to live quite as long with the consequences of their fucked-up decision.
We’re approaching our own election in November. I sincerely hope my fellow countrymen learn from this, and do their research before they go to ballot boxes. I especially hope the millennials learn, and turn out in fucking droves.
I hope those doing research do not rely on fearmongering ads from the corporate-financed politicians trying to sell them another term in office (during which they collect a paycheck, insurance, and lobbyist checks), but actually look into the issues that matter to them. If you know someone who seems a little lost on the USA candidates, or confused about the issues, point them to one of these non-partisan sites to kick-start their political education. Better late than never.
- www.ontheissues.org — A non-profit and non-partisan organization run by volunteers which provides information on candidates backgrounds and issues stances.
- www.votesmart.org — A non-profit and non-partisan website for collecting and dissementating factual information regarding the biographies, funding, donations, and resume experience of political candidates in the USA.
- www.isidewith.com — An in depth and nuanced political quiz on social and economic issues. It even allows you to expand the questions for more answers and write-in responses where none really match, and finishes by saying where on the political spectrum you fall and which political candidates are more closely aligned with your values and why.