The Brits did everyone in America a huge favor last week by voting to leave the EU: They gave us a respite from the 24-hour Donald Trump media machine. Unfortunately, even last week the Donald wasn't far from cameras; in Scotland, he hailed the Brexit results as a positive sign.
Who says Trump and I never agree?
I wasn't privy to the economic ins-and-outs, but I was on the side of "Leave"--not because of any "take back the country" nonsense, but because I generally believe that breaking away from something bigger is the way to go: the Baltic States from the Soviet Union; Henry VIII from the Church of Rome; Katie Holmes from Scientology; lifeboats from the Titanic.
What's amazed me is the reaction: You'd think the country that gave us the Domesday Book and the Magna Carta was doomed--doomed, because 52% wanted to be free of Angela Merkel and the boys in Brussels. It's not exactly Hitler's Blitz. A year from now, the sun--which once never set on the British Empire--will still rise on the British umpires at Wimbledon. It's been interesting to see how the issue has brought out the inner reactionary in card-carrying liberals. Before the vote, European Council President Donald Tusk said he feared for the future of western political civilization in its entirety if Brexit passed. "Why is it so dangerous? Because no one can foresee what the long-term consequences would be," Tusk said. Long live the status quo!
The markets, as expected, behaved badly--Nature and the FTSE 100 index both abhor a vacuum. Once again they proved themselves to be as fuddy-duddy as Great-Aunt Agatha. For her, there was never a good reason to upset the apple cart, whether by exiting the E.U. or leaving a suit-and-salary job to start a business. Back in the day, when I was gearing up to give notice at my 9-to-5 reinsurance job, I was told it was the worst mistake I could make. I had security and an air-conditioned office, what more could I possibly want? Control of my own destiny? That's crazy talk.
The clamor about catastrophe is nothing new of course. It's no different than what we hear after every U.S. election, when we're subjected to a protracted media deathwatch for the losing party, only to witness its miraculous recovery by the time the next election rolls around. When will we ever learn?
This week, President Obama was managing to keep his cool about the vote, and urging others to do the same. "There's been a little bit of hysteria post-Brexit vote, as if somehow NATO's gone, the trans-Atlantic alliance is dissolving, and every country is rushing off to its own corner," he said.
In other words, it's not the end of the world as we know it, and he feels fine. Me too.
Hmmm. Who'd have imagined I'd be agreeing with both Trump and Obama in the space of a single column? Pretty scary, what this Brexit vote hath wrought, after all.