Today Britain voted to leave the EU. They wanted to leave despite the likelihood that the rupture would result in economic turmoil and British hardship, and despite all the advantages they enjoy as part of Europe. Many in the “leave” faction were fueled by fear of the EU’s open borders and the recent immigration crisis. Many of the same folks want to keep Britain for the British – if you know what I mean. They can credibly be compared to Donald Trump’s supporters in the US, which makes it worthwhile to think about what just happened in Britain. And to that end, Kevin Drum ties all the threads together for us better than anything else I’ve read:
I don’t have any personal axe to grind on Brexit. Except for one: I am sick and tired of watching folks like Boris Johnson, Marine Le Pen, Donald Trump and others appeal to the worst racial instincts of our species, only to be shushed by folks telling me that it’s not really racism driving their popularity. It’s economic angst. It’s regular folks tired of being spurned by out-of-touch elites. It’s a natural anxiety over rapid cultural change.
Maybe it’s all those things. But at its core, it’s the last stand of old people who have been frightened to death by cynical right-wing media empires and the demagogues who enable them—all of whom have based their appeals on racism as overt as anything we’ve seen in decades. It’s loathsome beyond belief, and not something I thought I’d ever see in my lifetime. But that’s where we are.
In case you haven’t been keeping up, Boris Johnson is a rightwing British politician, the former Mayor of London, who is known for his rabble-rousing “racist and homophobic language, and elitism.” Marine Le Pen is president of France’s uber-nationalist, racist National Front (and she is, not surprisingly, promising a “frexit” campaign), while Donald Trump, we all know, is the emergent id of the once more covertly racist, elitist, homophobic, misogynistic Republican Party.
Baby, it’s bad out there.