Friday, June 24, 2016

Brexit, Trump, and Nativism

Last night, the people of the UK voted to leave the European Union. The geopolitical and economic ramifications of this vote will be far reaching, with many no doubt unforeseen consequences as this decision takes hold.

Some news reports have already suggested that even those who voted "LEAVE" were voting more in protest, without regard to practical results like dissolution of EU trade rules with the Continent. No doubt those who chafed against open borders will chafe anew at increased difficulties in crossing the Channel for holiday in the south of France.

This vote marks a kind of official endorsement of the kind of nativist backlash that is fueling the Trump campaign in the United States. That nativism has its roots in the Jim Crow South, with its ideological forebears the segregationists like Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms. The parallels between the followers of Trump and those of George Wallace a half century ago are striking.

Trump apologists dress up this anger in the finery of economic populism. They distract the disgruntled public away from the systemic wage theft resulting from a tax code that encourages accumulation of massive wealth over compensating the labor that creates that wealth. Instead, the right wing political machine has directed white working class anger at "those people" who are taking their jobs, rather than at the "job creators" who hoard cash in offshore tax havens, breaking it out only to buy out other companies.

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