Brexit Holds Lessons For America
Brexit, of course, is significant for Americans economically.
But we should focus with a clear and cold eye on its political and cultural meaning, because the political and cultural forces driving Brexit are at work here. We ignored them for too long, and they are already changing our lives.
Here, as in Britain, there is a widening fault line between those who favor globalization, free trade, immigration, and environmentalism, and those who perceive a mortal threat from these forces.
To older, largely white, “blue collar” workers without a college degree, these modern movements seem to constitute a dire threat to their very existence.
To an increasing number of fellow citizens, immigration may mean that “they” are coming for my job. Globalization means that my job is going to be shipped overseas. Free trade means that my job will be traded for unemployment. Environmentalism means curbs on coal and mandates against manufacturing.
The perceived threat is not only economic. To many Americans, their very way of life is slipping away.
These passions coalesced in Britain in support of Brexit. Here they appear to be coalescing in support of Trump and, to a lesser degree, Sanders.
We should learn from the British experience not to ignore the rising concerns and anxiety of our fellow citizens here.
I’m Bob Evans, and that’s my perspective.