Brexit has been on the world’s collective mind lately. Great Britain’s vote to exit the European Union has shocked world leaders and markets, resulting in an immediate plunge in the pound’s value and a large uncertainty in a nervous market. The average American, however, might be asking, “How can this possibly affect me?” Unfortunately the answer to that is “more than you’d think.”
The British exit itself will largely not have an effect outside of Europe. While the global market suffered a massive spike, experts generally agree that this is the result of alarm over an uncertain future, and not indicative of any future trends (Britain itself excluded). However the circumstances leading up to Brexit are of great importance, and are worthy of the world’s attention. The political upheaval and public discontent in Britain are synonymous with the events in several other countries today – most notably the United States, Greece, and Denmark.
Political analysts were fairly confident that the Brexit would not occur. When the vast majority of experts warned against the consequences, it seemed absurd and unlikely that any Britons outside of a vocal minority would approve of such a drastic measure. Yet against all odds, a majority decided that Britain would be better off on its own—a direct attack on the modern principles of globalism.
Does this sound familiar? It should, as we on American soil are experiencing an eerily similar phenomenon with Donald Trump. Analysts were fairly confident that he had no chance, it seemed ridiculous and unlikely, etc. Yet here we stand at four months before the election, and there is a very real chance that Donald Trump will be riding a wave of populism into the White House.
Britain is not alone. Much of the modern world is dealing with rising populist factions, and now that the first domino has fallen, it is impossible to predict how the future will unfold, as well as how other countries might look to Britain as an example of succumbing to that rhetoric and fear. It is increasingly important to pay attention to world events like these. If Americans aren’t careful, we will soon be the ones to shock the rest of the world.
Danny Miles is a third-year student who is watching current events unfold in a morbid fascination.