Friday, June 24, 2016

Looks Like I Picked The Wrong Week To Stop Sniffing Brexit

So there I was yesterday, promising I was going to cut back on social media and blogging. I am just honestly doing too much of it right now.

So both the Old Gods and the New decided to screw up my blogger vacation with arguably the biggest global crisis since the 2007-08 economic meltdown.

Thursday, the United Kingdom - England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and various other commonwealth areas tied into it - held a "nonbinding referendum" on an up or down vote: to Leave the European Union - a major economic and trade coalition of European nations - or Remain.

It was also called #Brexit, a melding of "Britain" and "Exit" that worked well as a Twitter hashtag.

It was a serious argument for the UK for decades over joining the Union at all: the debates between joining or standing alone were pretty fierce if I recall my history, up until they actually joined (with restrictions, not full membership) in order to reap certain economic benefits such as making the entire Euro market the largest trading bloc and engine of finance/industry on the planet. Once they were in, the arguments subsided for the most part... except for flaring up last year because of homeland fears over immigration and businesses fleeing to other nations (gee, sounds familiar...)

It was supposed to be a throwaway moment: it was something Prime Minister Cameron promised to do last year during the Parliamentary elections as a way to keep voters from bolting to the anti-EU, anti-immigrant UKIP (aka British Trumpshirts) during a potentially tight run. The expectations - and the polling - kept pointing to a tough but clean win to Remain with the EU, because honestly most of the elites in politics and the media believed the voters wouldn't be stupid enough to commit economic suicide.

And then they counted the votes.

I swear to the Gods - the Old and the New - that the very second the incoming ballots showed Leave was going to eke out a win, the entire global economy melted down faster than a cup of Dipping Dots at an August afternoon preseason football game at Raymond James stadium.

The British Pound dropped to a 30-year low compared to the US dollar. In about an hour it dropped faster than a blue whale without a parachute.

To say that the global markets went into panic mode AT THAT MOMENT and remained so well into today would be an understatement.

And so here I was, sitting at home watching all of this on an Internet I swore I wasn't going to pay attention to, and this was pretty much the one thought bouncing through my head:


You Brits could have retained some stability in all three major areas of public concern: your economy, your culture, your government. All three are now burning in the dumpster fire.

The economic consequences are being felt now... with every likelihood of things getting worse once the mechanics of leaving the EU kick in.

The outrage among younger voters - who overwhelmingly backed Remain - is going to stick with that electorate for a very long time.

Prime Minister David Cameron went in one hour from being one of the most powerful men on the planet - Prime Minister ranks somewhere below President of the United States and slightly above the Actor Currently Playing The Doctor - to resigning from office in utter humiliation. Few Prime Ministers fell so low so fast. The resulting battle among Conservatives for the new leadership spot will likely spill over into a broken government, forcing a new round of elections sooner than the required five-year cycle.

Not to mention the likelihood that the very existence of the United Kingdom - anchored by the British Parliament - won't survive the year. Scotland AND Northern Ireland - both of which rely on the EU economy more than England - are calling for referendums of their own to force independence from Great Britain. The daily reality of everything from Queen Elizabeth's reign - and that has serious repercussions at home and abroad - all the way down to passports and travel rules across Europe are taking a huge hit here.

It's as though - and there's evidence pointing to it - the voters for Leave didn't realize what the hell they were voting for until AFTER THEY FOOKIN VOTED.

Buyer's remorse is reportedly now rampant across the countryside. Cliches are getting thrown out there like there's no tomorrow. Sorry, had to.

This is a cascade of failure across time and space. If the Brits weren't working on a functional TARDIS before all this, they are fookin building one NOW.

This was a spectacular failure of leadership within British government itself. Cameron failed to consider the actual likelihood of a bad result, and didn't create alternatives on the ballot to avoid a catastrophic either-or Sadistic Choice. It didn't help that factions within the Conservative ranks itself sowed chaos. Boris Johnson in particular - as close a clone of Trump we'll ever get: a glory-seeking Upper Class Twit - had pushed publicly for #Brexit as a way to take out Cameron and claim No. 10 Downing for himself, but apparently JUST NOW figured out how costly the bill is going to be. If he gets The Iron Throne to be Prime Minister, it's going to be ruling over a land of ash and White Walkers. All hail Boris, First of His Name... King of Nothing...

The main opposition party - Labour - didn't do any better. Ostensibly campaigning to Remain, they did a very piss-poor job of it. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is facing a No-Confidence vote: the party itself may lose all of Scotland as a political ally if they split off. Gordon Brown for some godforsaken reason is starting to look good.

And the one who really won this referendum is a son-of-a-bitch. The UKIP leader - Nigel Farage - was one of Leave's biggest proponents: Farage pushed a narrative about the threat of immigrants and lost jobs, as well as making promises that the UK would recover money from the EU that could go back towards paying off their NHS (Health care). And yet not a day passed after his victory that Farage admitted on television that his claim about the NHS was "a mistake." No, it wasn't a mistake, you racist SOB: You lied.

This was a monstrous failure of communication by the media outlets tasked with keeping the electorate educated and informed. It does not surprise me one bit that one of the bigger proponents for Leave was one of Rupert Murdoch's papers The Sun. Decades of pushing populist narratives and bad reporting onto the British population - much like what he's been pushing here in the U.S. with Fox Not-News - has created an electorate that's poorly informed and motivated by flawed opinions masquerading as news.

This was a horrifying failure of civic responsibility by the voters themselves. Too much self-indulgence, too short-sighted and short-term, and too disinterested to take the entire thing serious enough. And now their economy is tanking so fast their personal wealth - any retirement funds, any investment portfolios, the very cash in their pockets - could be gone by Monday.

This is a massive warning sign to the United States electorate. This is it, folks: this is what Nativist Populism looks like. This is what anti-immigrant, anti-Establishment fear-mongering creates. A large enough number of voters bought into the lies and scams of the likes of Farage - who exaggerated fears about immigrants and lied about the benefits of Leaving - into voting against their own self-interest and needs. We've seen it too many times here in the U.S. already, where a solid bloc of voters routinely vote against social aid or improvements to their cities and counties and states all because they buy the Populist snake-oil. And now the Brits are doing it to themselves. And it's frankly getting too scary to see how this is going to be a problem for us here in the U S of A.

Think we critics of Donald Trump are joking about how bad it's going to be for the United States - and the world - if Trump wins? Just look at the UK right now, in the last 24 hours: that will be the US after Election Day this November if Trump gets a majority of the Electoral College. And it will get worse every other day following that.

Speaking of the devil, Trump for some Ungodly reason was in Scotland as the Brexit vote was taking place. He made some insane brain-fart tweets about the referendum, and then today made a public speech about Brexit... and how it was going to be great for that golf course of his that he was there to promote.

There is now a Gallifrey-sized dent in my desk where my head slammed into it.

I remember the terror I felt for my own nation's near-miss with economic meltdown: all the way back during that Long October of 2013. At one point I realized that one of the biggest reasons our Republican overlords in Congress were hell-bent on forcing an economic crisis was because they had no real idea what it would really look like. I mean, they never really believed the underlying causes of the 2007-08 Economic Collapse was due to massive deregulation and greedy banks: the Far Right kept believing it was bad government, high taxes, and Fannie Mae. So in their minds, they could make their own government default on its own and there wouldn't be any major consequences (or at the least blame Obama and the evil hippie libruls).

The British Far Right and their entire Conservative Tory wing apparently viewed their relations to the EU in the same light of ill-informed ignorance. They acted as though cutting ties to every other major economic power on their own continent would be mutual, beneficial, and safe. They are honestly getting sideswiped right now by the economic meltdown they've just caused and are continuing to generate. Here's more evidence: the British economy just slid from fifth to sixth in the world economic leader board behind FRANCE. You think we Yanks joke too much about France? The Brits are now personally humiliated they are doing worse than France. And there's nowhere to go but down...

Other than outright negating the entire referendum and pledging to stay within the EU - which is doable, but would likely cost them their earlier privileges with the EU as a penalty, and would likely break the Tories as a ruling party for the next decade (if not longer, if the youth voters remember this shitshow) - they are now on a terrifying train ride into economic and political isolation.

If not utter ruin.

I never knew the 1960s. I was literally born in its wake - 1970 - and so can only remember it as history.

I am wondering if 1968 was just this maddening, just this chaotic across the board. All this uncertainty and horror and rage and angst and dread.

The dread I felt about the likelihood of Romney beating Obama back in 2012 was nothing like this.

For the first time in my life, I fear the future.

What the hell is wrong with us?


dinthebeast said...

This is very Trump-like in that it was a bullshit campaign tactic by Cameron that got away from him and blew up in his face. Trump, with his notoriously thin skin, would be very likely to face multiple situations of this sort as he learns about how each of the things he promised will damage the country, but is faced with admitting that he lied as the other option. At those points, look for his biggest torture program to be upon the English language.
Our representative form of government was arrived at for some sound reasons. Some things are better not left to a popular vote. Lots of perfectly horrible ideas can be made popular enough to win an election. We have the initiative system here in California, and while we did get medical marijuana that way (although the actual law we voted in was deeply flawed and is responsible in its faulty nature for the fact that we can still have Federal raids here), we also nearly ruined our state in 1978 with prop 13, an anti-tax initiative that we're still trying to dig out way out from under 38 years later. Oh, yeah, prop 187 passed, but got struck down in court. It was an anti-illegal immigration law about as enforceable as Trump's deportation promise, and similarly mean-spirited. Then there was prop 8... So, yeah, I wish congress actually functioned, because as bad as it can be, it's still a better system than the initiative process. Sometimes decisions should be made by people who know stuff, plain and simple. The EU is a deeply flawed project, but from what I can tell, a better approach would have been trying to improve it rather than dismantle it. Sort of like government here.

-Doug in Oakland

Denny said...

As an 11-year old in 1968 I recall it being extremely unsettled. Race relations were bad with blacks getting increasingly fed up with the social atmosphere, I was one of the few white kids that could go outside in our predominantly black neighborhood because I treated people with respect and was a fairly accomplished basketball player at a young age and the other kids wanted me on their team. The space program was still a source of national fascination. The Olympics were their usual big sell with John Carlos and Tommie Smith performing the black power salute on the award platform. MLK and Robert Kennedy assassinated. While I didn't grasp it at the time the Tet Offensive signaled a decisive swing for the worse in the Vietnam War. I have occasionally wondered what would have been going on had there the internet existed during that time. We had all of three major networks and to this day I regard Walter Cronkite as one of the greats of all time for how he delivered copy of the events of the day.