Thomas Friedman The New York Times 6-29-16
The British vote by a narrow majority to leave the European Union is not the end of the world — but it does show us how we can get there.
A major European power, a longtime defender of liberal democracy, pluralism and free markets, falls under the sway of a few cynical politicians who see a chance to exploit public fears of immigration to advance their careers. They create a stark binary choice on an incredibly complex issue, of which few people understand the full scope — stay in or quit the E.U.
These politicians assume that the dog will never catch the car and they will have the best of all worlds — opposing something unpopular but not having to deal with the implications of the public actually voting to get rid of it. But they so dumb down the debate with lies, fear-mongering and misdirection, and with only a simple majority required to win, that the leave-the-E.U. crowd carries the day by a small margin. Presto: the dog catches the car. And, of course, it has no idea now what to do with this car. There is no plan. There is just barking.
Friedman then cautions Trump supporters as I did recently lest they fall into the same trap. From my perspective the same can be said of those who fell under the populist, anti-globalization, anti-trade spell of Bernie Sanders.
It took the Pilgrims 66 days to cross the Atlantic. Once upon a time we measured mail delivery in months and making a telephone call to Europe was a big expensive deal.
I don’t think I have to contrast all that with what we take for granted in the 21st century; instant communications with virtually anyone in the world and global travel measured in hours. I think about that every time I hear anti-globalization and nationalism rhetoric.
Like it or not, the world is smaller, interconnected and interdependent. No country can make things work only for it in isolation. No country can flourish without trade and yes, as we have seen when that happens there will be some rebalancing of standards of living. Neither the British nor Americans can have the benefits of globalization without some consequences; something the naysayers fail to mention.
There is another consideration in all this. Maybe, just maybe when people and economies and countries are more dependent on one another they will be less inclined to blow each other to hell. Nationalists and isolated populations tend to be more inclined to seek what they believe they don’t have from others … through aggression.
Categories: Observations on life