Sunday, June 26, 2016

If Only We Could Trexit

If only Donald Trump would Trexit. Before November, when he'll likely Trexit anyway.

Yes, I know that the British vote to leave the European Union is being interpreted as a warning that the angry, anti-immigrant, anti-trade, build-an-entire-sea-around-the-country (which the British actually did at minimal cost), xenophobic population in England is heading towards the United States, but I don't necessarily believe it. The forces that created the European Union to begin with were far more elitist than the Democrats and Republicans who supposedly rigged the country with unfair trade deals and lower taxes on the wealthy in the United States. After all, we actually got to vote to lower taxes and everything else that the angry electorate wants to undo. The Europeans didn't get to vote on the Union. And by the by, don't let the fact that it was the Conservative government of David Cameron, in an effort to mollify the far-right, that brought on this vote. There really is a lesson about giving ultra-conservatives a referendum on their beliefs. Will we learn?

Clearly, change is in the air and has been for a few years. The United States economy has stalled, the middle class, and what used to be called the working middle class has seen its income stagnate, bankers and Wall Street types got bailout while others were losing their homes, and public workers have been vilified for having too much in the way of collective bargaining rights, pensions and benefits. Mix in terrorism, mass shootings and a sense of unease because of technological change, and the brew is getting quite yeasty.

It's at this time that we need to be very careful about the electoral choices we make. I understand anger, but I do not want an angry person, or a person who is leading an angry movement to become powerful in this country. I want someone who is going to be able to manage that anger and make it productive. Someone who can lead us to a safer place where we do not turn on each other. President Obama is such a level-headed leader and I applaud his attempts at calming the waters and asking Americans to think before they act. I also see Hillary Clinton as the best choice in November to lead a country who is one demagogue away from violence, recrimination, blame and disaster.

This is why we need a Trexit. Donald Trump is exactly the wrong person to get anywhere near the White House short of a tourist pass. He has certainly tapped into much of the anger and frustration that many people in this country feel, but he has yet to harness it. He continues to scratch the raw wound and is enabling Americans to suffer from the pain without actually administering some medicine that will cure what ails us.

And he continues to utter what I consider the most destructive phrase in the political lexicon: We need to take back our country.

This is a potent saying, but one that is built on hatred, mistrust, creating "the other," separating us from each other, and overtly saying that there are anti-Americans in our midst who should either not be here or should be dealt with harshly. And we all know who he is talking about. The British were able to render a decision peacefully and without blame because the question they were being asked to vote on did not have a name attached to it. In some ways it was a referendum on David Cameron, but this was an idea. What Trump is doing is giving a face to the fears we have and tapping into our worst stereotypes. All Muslims. All Hispanics. There is no nuance. That's dangerous.

Besides, although the reporting will continue to follow the day-to-day effects of the British vote, the real issue is not that they voted to leave, but whether that was actually the right decision. Donald Trump thinks it was. That's all I need to know.

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