The “Weak” in U.S. Politics: Brexit Edition. In a week that saw the landmark referendum to see Britain leave the EU, The Big Smoke wanted to gauge the reactions of not just our current POTUS candidates, but our own writers; from the U.S., Australia, Germany, and the UK, the reactions were as divided as the media reports.
Hillary Clinton: We respect the choice the people of the United Kingdom have made. Our first task has to be to make sure that the economic uncertainty created by these events does not hurt working families here in America. We also have to make clear America’s steadfast commitment to the special relationship with Britain and the transatlantic alliance with Europe. This time of uncertainty only underscores the need for calm, steady, experienced leadership in the White House to protect Americans’ pocketbooks and livelihoods, to support our friends and allies, to stand up to our adversaries, and to defend our interests. It also underscores the need for us to pull together to solve our challenges as a country, not tear each other down.
Bernie Sanders: What worries me very much is the breaking down of international cooperation. On the other hand, I think what this vote is about is an indication that the global economy is not working for everybody. It’s not working in the United States for everybody and it’s not working in the UK for everybody.
Donald Trump: I really do see a parallel between what’s happening in the United States and what’s happening here (UK). People want to see borders. They don’t necessarily want people pouring into their country that they don’t know who they are and where they come from. They have no idea. And I think, you know, it—not only did it win, but it won by a much bigger margin than people thought it would happen.
Trisha De Borchgrave, London: This was a vote against the elite—the bankers, politicians, business leaders, tax-evaders—and, more worryingly, the elite of critical thinking—the IMF, the OECD, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and the President of the United States, among others. Pro-Brexit Justice Minister Michael Gove’s words of comfort that this moment will signify “a new chapter in line with our best traditions” ring true; circa 1972, that is, propped by a tanking pound, a visible British Nationalist Movement, and a more prosperous London-centric capital with little regard for the rest of the country, England. (Read Trisha’s full op-ed on the Brexit results here.)
Lena Wiemken, Germany: Today, I feel like I lost a piece of home. Britain was part of what I have called my European home and it saddens me to see part of it go. While I believe that the EU is in need of change, I more so believe that now more than ever, EU citizens need to recall all the privileges they gain from the union, which is not just trade benefits. The EU is crucial for guaranteeing peace, freedom, and companionship throughout Europe and the rest of the world. While overall Britain has voted for an exit, most young Brits, as well as London, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, voted against it, which is why we need to show them our support and that we will welcome them back in our European community at any time if they wish to, as only together we are strong and can make progress in Europe and the rest of the world.
Nicholas Harrington, Sydney: It is possible that many people voted to leave because they were caught up in the fear-mongering of xenophobia—but no matter. A win’s a win’s a win. It should perplex everybody that the only “experts” called upon to pass judgment on the impact of Brexit were “economic experts.” Where were the historic experts, the cultural experts, the democratic experts? Had they been surveyed, they might have said that the greatest moments in history are those when people fight for their sovereignty and independence. They might have said that fortifying the unique cultural and historical roots of a people have been the essential threads in the majestic tapestry of the human experience. They might have said that democracy is when the will of the people prevails. Perhaps markets will tumble and, in the short term, trade declines. But there are more important things in this world than financial realities. Things like principle, pride, patriotism, and passion. These are the real winners today. And the loser? The notion that our entire lives should be oriented towards the demands of the economy. (Slow clap.) Britain, you have had your Independence Day. May June 23rd live long in the memory of mankind.
Ben Werner, South Korea: A vote for Brexit at the same moment an inward-looking Republican is running for President in America and, wow, so this is how Oceania forms in an Orwellian-like eternal fight against either Eurasia or Eastasia? What a double-plus newsfeed indeed. But before we all fill our celebratory tumblers of Victory gin, perhaps it’s a good idea to consider what this rampant embrace of rejecting expert advice and basic economic principals means throughout the lands of Oceania. Then again, I’m pretty sure doing so equals a thought crime, so make that tumbler of Victory gin a double and wait for our speech to be so regulated this conversation won’t even be possible.
Jesse Valencia, USA: The beginning of the end of the EU. Mark my words, Brexit will energize independence movements throughout Europe. Scotland and Northern Ireland should seize this opportunity and split off from the UK, whose future now rests entirely in its own hands. Now if they could just ditch the Royal Family …
Mathew Mackie, Sydney: This independence day is worse than the movie of the same name. David Cameron resigning, talk of London holding a separate referendum to split from Britain, Boris Johnson. Wowzers trousers. I wanted Boris for PM, but not like this. Whatever the cause and effect, it will forever be the vote that launches a thousand PhD applications.
Sean Carmichael, Sydney: All for it. Europe. Shut the door on your way out!
Roger Pugh, UK/Sydney: The British were urged by everyone from Obama to Hollande to Malcolm to Merkel to Tusk to the World Bank to Juncker and to Hillary to REMAIN yet they responded to the pedagogism of Boris, Nigel, and Trump, and Left. Whatever possessed them? Most British residents outside London don’t feel anything like as close to Europe as the geography might suggest. They talk about “The Continent” as though they’ve never been there. They have been robustly ropable about the foreigners in Brussels who come up with regulations about things of vital concern to them like sausages with no prior consultation whatsoever. Furthermore, these crass Continentals are perceived to have had the utter gall to presume they can take over Britain’s Immigration Department and dictate how many refugees should come in. Who the hell do they think they are? Much of regional Britain feels a million miles from Westminster let alone Brussels but at least they have a chance to shake things up there every four years. This was their one and only big chance to make their feelings count in Brussels and they took it.
Nathan Tompkins, USA: Considering the murder of Jo Cox by a modern day Blackshirt, considering someone flew a plane with a pro-exit advert over her funeral, and considering how far Right organizations such as Front National and the BNP are touting this vote as a major victory, I doubt it means anything good for the people of the United Kingdom, and Europe. Politicians used fear of the evil foreigners to get their way. Now, the pound is decreasing in value, and global markets are falling. Even if the UK bounces back stronger than before, with the Right wing forces at work, will that be a United Kingdom we want? The only real good I can see coming from this is the possible reunification of Ireland and Scottish independence. As for me, I think it is time to carry a towel and hope the Vogons show up soon to build their interstellar bypass. Maybe we can set up a poetry slam at the restaurant. It’s got to be better than this.
Lee Tolley, Auckland: The UK leaving the EU is a sign of the UK reacting against the EU’s push for centralization of power. Following the UK’s lead is an opportunity to move towards everyone regaining their own sovereignty.
Natalie Murray, Edinburgh: We’ve fucked it, truly fucked it.
And of course there was this …
— GoogleTrends (@GoogleTrends) June 24, 2016
The “Weak” in Politics as seen by Roger Pugh
Heard in a Rodeo Drive Boutique
“I see Hillary’s become a grandma again.”
“I thought she was trying to become the Mother of all Presidents.”
Heard at the State Department
“Why do you think Trump would be so different in the way he conducted foreign policy?”
“He doesn’t believe in being diplomatic.”
Heard at Republican Party HQ
“What do you think it would take for the Bushes to endorse Trump?”
“The onset of dementia.”
Heard at Democratic Party HQ
“I hear there’s still a plot afoot in Republican circles to dump Trump.”
“I know, but it’s most unlikely they’ll be able to arrange a shot of him in bed with Sarah Palin.”
Heard in Congress
“What do you think Nixon would have thought of Trump?”
“He’d certainly have given him a leading role in Watergate.”
Heard at Fox News
“Why do you believe the debates between Trump and Hillary will attract such a big audience?”
“Extreme sports are very popular these days.”