24 June 2016

Brexit After All

The votes were tallied and nearly 52% of those votes supported the UK leaving the EU.  I knew the vote would be close -- all polling leading up to the vote suggested as much -- but I confess I'm surprised that "remain" didn't carry the day.  These are strange political times we live in.  Both left and right have serious divisions with them.  Here in England, I've heard isolationists on the right who fear the "other" side with some on the left who want to blow the establishment system up, thinking that starting over is the only way revolution will happen.  Strange bedfellows indeed.

While on a recumbent bike at the gym this morning, I watched on live television the British Prime Minister resign.  That David Cameron would leave isn't a shock, but it was something else watching it happen in real time.  He'll likely leave in October.  My family picked an interesting year to be in England!  We'll leave an England at the end of July that will be rather different from the one we'll visit if we are lucky enough to return in the future.

The Brexit vote reminds me of just how divided people are on certain ways of viewing the world, and how the groups rarely intermingle.  I admit that I wanted the UK to remain in the EU, and essentially everyone I know here feels the same way.  At least three times this morning I heard something like, "Everyone I know voted to remain.  How did we lose?"  While working at a university, I primarily interact with people in academia and professionals with "white collars."  I simply don't cross paths with the large number of people in Sheffield who work "blue collar" jobs in various industries.  I certainly don't view one group as being better than the other; my career choice has put me in proximity with one group.  I learned this morning that Sheffield voted to leave by a margin of 51% to 49%, meaning the people I associate with were part of the minority opinion.

I've heard much talk about there being "two Americas" in the US.  We will have a choice this November between two candidates who poll at #1 and #2 historically on how much they're despised.  And both have earned those rankings.  But people who support one candidate can hardly fathom the thinking going on inside the heads of those support the other candidate.  I can't help being like that myself.  It has always been a complete mystery to me why so many in my country support citizens owning semi-automatic (or fully automatic) weapons.  And that's just one example of many that make me feel like I'm part of one of the two Americas.

It will be interesting to see how everything unfolds as the UK moves forward.  We'll certainly be keeping up with UK politics after returning to the US.

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