Brexit and The 4th of July

What do June 23rd and July 4th have in common? Self-determination.

Last week’s Brexit vote had as much to do with reclaiming sovereignty and the right to determine one’s own direction as July 4, 1776.

I don’t pretend to know as much about the European Union—despite having lived in Europe for two years—and Brexit as some others may (pretend to), but this much I know: as disruptive as the UK’s exit from the EU may be in the short-term, it gives the rights of governance back to the British people, putting decision making closer to home.

A friend of mine with a keen sense for politics once told me, “The further I go from my own door the less I trust government.” His argument was that city leaders are typically more attuned and sympathetic to issues facing their constituents, as are county leaders, although to a lesser degree. State leaders are a more removed, and national leaders are so consumed with their own agendas their work is not, despite their flattering claims to the contrary, for those they represent.

Timothy B. Lee and Zach Beauchamp of Vox lay out a well-reasoned and straightforward response to the questions many of us have about Brexit, seeming to give each side fair treatise. One of the key points made as to why the British voted the way they did, is summed up by former London mayor Boris Johnson.

The more the EU does, the less room there is for national decision-making. Sometimes these EU rules sound simply ludicrous, like the rule that you can’t recycle a teabag, or that children under eight cannot blow up balloons, or the limits on the power of vacuum cleaners. Sometimes they can be truly infuriating – like the time I discovered, in 2013, that there was nothing we could do to bring in better-designed cab windows for trucks, to stop cyclists being crushed. It had to be done at a European level, and the French were opposed. 

As I read about those restrictions, I can't help but think of the effect of such policies on small businesses. As a small business owner grateful for the opportunities presented here in the USA, I can imagine the difficulty presented trying to keep up with the regulations.

Lee and Beauchamp continue, “On this view, the EU isn't just too meddlesome, it’s also undemocratic and unaccountable to the public,” and follow up with a quote from British journalist Douglas Murray: "The issue of sovereignty of who governs you, is the most important question for any country."

This is of course not to say that all the EU brings is restrictive and onerous policies. Indeed, many countries have benefited a great deal from the free-trade zone, collective law enforcement efforts, and I’m sure many other benefits brought about by communal governance. The question is, are those enough to outweigh the British people’s desire to determine their own destiny?

To learn more on both sides of the issue, you can read Lee and Beauchamp’s article here.