Brexit

My daughter taking a selfie on the streets of Hammersmith, London, July 2017.

I wrote this a few days after the Brexit vote in 2016, but never published it. Everything I wrote two years ago, I still feel today. With March 29 looming, I decided to dust off this blog post and publish it.

First, left me explain that I am a liberal. Every checkbox that is used to describe a liberal — gun control, socialized healthcare, marriage equality, regulation of corporations — all these things are integral to my belief system. This is my ideological infrastructure. This small blog post is written from that point of view. I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind; I’m not trying to infiltrate the ideology of the opposing camp; I’m merely mourning. So many of us are mourning right now. For those of us who truly believe in equality and that, someday, there could be a world with no borders, Brexit was emotionally devastating. I cried for two days. Honestly.

I cried because my children are British. I’m American, but their father is British. And as British citizens, they would have been able to freely move about Europe for work or vacation. I was so excited for the openness and possibility of their future, but that has now shrunk significantly for them as it has for all Britons.

I cried because xenophobia, nativism and isolationism won. Britons choose to shrink instead of expand, disclude instead of include. I cried because the hope that I have in my heart that one day there will be no borders, that we will call all people of every nation brother and sister, that the color of a person’s skin will be no more noticed than the color of a person’s eyes or hair — that hope took a sucker punch to the gut.

I cried because I believed in Britain. When things seemed hopeless in the U.S. and racism seemed to edge forward or gun laws were once again struck down or the FDA once again didn’t protect consumers, I would think, “Well, at least there is Britain. They still shine brightly for the Western world of progressive thinkers.” I now have to align Britain with the U.S. They are no longer the standard bearers of liberal belief.

I cried for the EU. A united and stable Europe is a very good thing; a fragmented and unstable Europe is a very bad thing. Just look through your history books. The destabilization of Europe is not a good thing, and, if it comes to it, I hope the EU quickly and decisively chops off the arm that is Britain because a stable and unified Europe, in the end, is a far more important thing than the British economy. The world can survive without a robust British economy although we will wobble as we slowly reset. But the world as a whole will have a much harder time surviving without a healthy and unified Europe. The breakup of the EU is not a thing to be wished for. The EU is significantly weaker without the UK, but, as we work through this crisis, resources should be used to bolster the EU. The UK has voted to be an island state and as such, will have diminished political and economic influence. The EU is of primary importance as it will politically and economically stabilize a much larger region and population.

There is nothing good in this, not from a liberal’s view. I hoped that by writing this, that by mourning in public, I could move forward. But the sadness still surrounds me. June 23, 2016 was a terrible day; it was the day that nativism won and Great Britain voluntarily chose to diminish.

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