A word of comfort on Brexit

For all those unhappy Brits who voted against Brexit, take comfort. The EU has a chance to be much better without the UK. The UK has been a brake on the EU since its entry. I was afraid it would be when we were applying, and I fully understand President Charles de Gaule's determination to keep us out.

For those who approve of the EU, take heart: you can emigrate there and enjoy all the benefits. You speak English, so everybody there will understand you. It's all win. And if you decide not to force your neighbours to speak English, well, it's not so hard to learn a germanic or romance language. I've learnt four of them in my lifetime, and can still cope reasonably well in three of them, in one of them exceptionally well.

As for me, I didn't vote in the Brexit referendum since I live in Sweden. I was seduced by the ideal of the EU when I was younger, although seeing what it has metamorphosed into, I no longer am.  Had I been there, I would have voted for Brexit if only for the sake of the rest of Europe.

I only wish there would be more interest in Swexit!  And of course we have to keep Sweden out of NATO.

The only way is up

So, we will have a Trump presidency in a little over two months. How did that happen? Was it foreseeable? Who messed up? What do we do now?

Everybody and his brother is asking these questions, and one or two are suggesting reasonable answers. I don't think we can expect such answers from the people actually responsible, but here's my take on what the reasonable are saying.

People are drawing parallels between the Trump victory and Brexit, and I think there is much to be said about that. There are so many similarities. In both cases the pollsters got it totally wrong. In both cases these divisions have proved extremely divisive. After Brexit family members who voted differently have refused to talk to each other. There are already signs of destructive dissent in the US. And in both cases, it was the disfranchised who upset the apple cart. From that point of view, one can say these were a triumph for democracy in that they drew more people to the ballot boxes.

In the list of parallels I think we should also count the independence vote in Scotland, even though that resulted in the defeat of those looking for change. The ballot in that case was extremely close, and many who voted against said in the days afterwards that they regretted their decision. The matter was only won by the lies and fear-mongering of the non-independence side being stronger than the lies and uncertain promises of the losers.

And we should not forget the success of the Syriza coalition in Greece (who later reneged on all their election promises) nor the Podemos movement in Spain. It is perhaps a little ironic that 'podemos' is an echo of Obama's 'Yes, we can' rallying cry.

No, Trump is not an isolated surprise, just the latest in a long series. So who is responsible?

In one sense one can say that the leaders of both Republicans and Democrats caused this. Not (merely) because they both stand for more of the same, which is good only for the top ten or twenty percent, but because they made bad decisions. During the primaries it was obvious to the Democrats that Bernie Sanders was polling as well as Hillary Clinton, and was running even with or better than Donald Trump in many cases. It was also clear that Hillary Clinton had a lot of rotten baggage in her history which was not going to do her any good, even if they had the main-stream media tied up. A decision to run with Bernie could well have given us the best option in the election, but Bernie was not singing the 'right' song, so he was rejected for the damaged goods of Hillary.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump's success in spite of his extreme, and in many cases, disgusting pronouncements did not result in their rejecting his message as being un-american, but by their disowning him in favour of Hillary. Many important Republicans went over to the enemy camp. This had a double effect: on the one hand it reinforced the Trump supporters that he had the establishment worried, which meant that he was their man; and on the other hand, the realisation that the establishment of both parties wanted Hillary to win made her their candidate, and voters realised that she was not an agent for the change they wanted.

Think about it: a jerk of the kind that Donald Trump made himself out to be should have been polling 2% to his opponent's 98% - except that the opponent was Hillary Clinton, destroyed by her history, by her party leaders and by the opposition party leaders. And so we got what we deserved.

In one sense, we can say that the fault only partly resides with the two party establishments. In large part it is the fault of the voters. It is all too easy to 'exercise one's democratic rights' once every four years by taking part in an election, and leaving the intervening period to party apparatchicks. But we need to make our thoughts and wishes known long before election day, indeed, one can say from the time immediately after an election, and throughout the four years up to the next election.

I did not vote in this election. I am not qualified to vote since I'm not an American citizen. But I am affected by the US elections, just as every other man, woman and child on the planet is affected by them, for the US has a long history of poking its nose, usually preceeded by the muzzle of a gun, into every corner of our planet.

There are two relatively bright aspects to a Trump presidency. On the one hand voices are now being raised to get people to engage more in the politics of their country. Witness the protest marches in various cities in the US. I suspect there will be more of these, and no doubt the infamous George Soros will be funding some of them, and encouraging certain individuals to turn them violent. But also one or two political commentators are making the same call. Check out Glenn Greenwald and John Schwarz at 'The Intercept'.

The other bright spot, a somewhat personal one, is my belief that Hillary Clinton, with her talk of bombing Iran back to the stone age and declaring an illegal no-fly zone over Syria, to say nothing of her historical support of every American-led destruction of so many states, her infamous pivot to the far east, and with her hypothesised cabinet members of Victoria 'f**k the EU' Nuland at State and Michele Flournoy at the Pentagon, to name but two, could easily have led the world into a third – and probably terminal – World War. I'm not saying Trump won't take us there, but at least his comments during the election campaign indicate that he might just try to lower the tone of the russophobic hysteria raging at the moment.

So yes, I am happy that Hillary didn't make it, but, no, I am not happy that Trump did. Now it's up to the Americans to handle Trump so that he does the minimal amount of damage to the planet. The other side of his policy, the social side, only affects the roughly 220 million Americans themselves. They've made their bed and they can lie in it. But the geopolitical situation and the environment affect all of the nearly 8 billion people on the planet, and I'm understandably more concerned for them.

© James Wilde 2015