22 August 2016

Brexit and Independence Day

The Fourth of July is Independence Day in America. The day that America declared freedom from the United Kingdom. Two weeks shy of being 240 years later the United Kingdom began their own Independence Day! 23 June 2016, The United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union and go it on their own.

Some people panicked after the final vote came in and the people decided to leave the Union. Some wanted to have another vote, saying that “only” 72% of the people voted. That to me, was a very large turnout, when in America, they get excited if there is a 50% turnout. They moaned about not having 60% of the people agreeing to leave. Why that percent? I have no idea. The final vote was 52% to 48%.

Anyway, watching it all unfold makes me wonder how similar was America’s independence. I’m sure many wanted to remain part of Britain, if for no other reason than the comfort of it.

America wanted independence because they had no representation. They had no voice in the rules and the government that ruled them. Britain had representation, yet the people in charge of them weren’t elected, the final say came from bureaucrats, who had no personal say in the lives of their “servants” - British people as well as other people from all the European countries.

While America’s independence came about from war… the United Kingdom’s independence came about through a pen or pencil and a piece of paper. A civilized revolution where the commoners defeated the elite.

From the first day I arrived here I heard on the news and listened to many people talk about the choices. To leave or to remain. The people who wanted to leave were fed up with so many things. Stagnant wages and a loss of sovereignty as well as freedom of movement from any European country. The people who wanted to remain looked at the earnings of stocks and big business.

While both campaigns had solid points to make, as an outsider, I could see and hear that the leave campaign had the determination to make sure they got to the polling station on the 23rd of June. The remain campaign wanted to stay but if they didn’t make it on time to vote than “oh well, everything will be alright.”

After the final vote, the prime minister resigned and the leader of the opposition was put in the middle of his own party’s civil war.

By the end of the year, England will be well on their way to once again having total control over their lives and they will have two new leaders guiding them on this journey.

I love politics and this has been a blast to watch and learn from. Not just how European politics work but also how the democracy of a nation is challenged and when all is said and done, it survives.

At this time of the year and being an American it is difficult not to make comparisons and by doing so I have a better understanding for the founders of America and the many sleepless nights I’m sure they endured.

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