Happy Independence Day, Great Britain.

July 4, 2016

"I wish to speak about the tragedy of Europe, this noble continent, the home of all the great parent races of the Western world, the foundation of Christian faith and ethics, the origin of most of the culture, arts, philosophy and science both of ancient and modern times. If Europe were once united in the sharing of its common inheritance there would be no limit to the happiness, prosperity and glory which its 300 million or 400 million people would enjoy. Yet it is from Europe that has sprung that series of frightful nationalistic quarrels, originated by the Teutonic nations in their rise to power, which we have seen in this 20th century and in our own lifetime wreck the peace and mar the prospects of all mankind."
-Winston Churchill, University of Zurich, September 19, 1946
. . . .
Perhaps you've heard the Tragedy of Europa?
Resplendent Europa, daughter of Phoenicia's King Agenor and Queen Telphassa, was among the world's most lovely creatures. Accordingly, she eventually caught the eye of Zeus.

And so once day, as Europa frolicked in the waves with friends, Zeus disguised himself as a big, white bull. Arose from the tides as Europa splashed nearby. Charmed, Europa sat and caught her breath upon the bull's broad back. Of course, Zeus had bigger plans. And he soon abducted the beauty. Dragged her to Crete. Where, upon arriving, Zeus transformed into an eagle and forced himself upon her. Having consummated his passion, he left her sprawled in helpless disarray.
Consequently, Zeus's coercive seduction bore three progeny. Minos. Rhadamanthus. And Sarpedon. The fruits of lust, power and violence. All three of whom would be subjected to sagas of their own. If only because of that fated union, Zeus and Europa. When, but for a moment's respite, Europa sat upon the back of a gentle, white bull. And so forever lost her innocence.
Thirty years ago, the European Union rose from the sea. Promising financial splendor, unity and common defense to the continents' nation states. Seduced by the promise of free trade, open borders and a peaceful future, Europe's nations - still bristling from the conflagrations of the 20th century - hastened to climb aboard.
For a while, the seduction appeared to have transitioned into something worthwhile. A working relationship. 28 member states spread over 1.7 million square miles with a population of 510 million. A confederation engendered in mutual economic and defense interests. If not always steeped in trust and admiration.
Of course, all multi-party endeavors appear sound when the environment is positive. Only when troubles begin can one observe a ventures' true merits.
The first cracks appeared in 1991. As a civil war raged on the new union's eastern periphery. Throughout the region formerly known as Yugoslavia.
The European Community's Council of Foreign Ministers declared that this was "the hour of Europe, not the hour of the Americans - if one problem can be solved by the Europeans, it is the Yugoslavian problem."
Of course, EU leaders have long displayed a zeal for power offset only by their sheer incompetence in exercising it. And so - four years later - the Yugoslavian problem was solved. By Americans. In America. Dayton, to be precise.
Which brings us to last week.
Great Britain became the first European nation to liberate itself from the bureaucratic bonds of what had become an unproductive relationship. Nor will Britain likely be the last.
The ideological conception of a united Europe, economically, militarily and legally? It is as attractive as it was unlikely. But one cannot blame the Europeans for trying.
Yet, make no mistake. Last week's referendum had nothing to do with ignorance, small mindedness or xenophobia, as goes the common chorus from the pro-EU side.
Last week's decision to vacate 30 years of effort was about liberty. Free trade. And a more efficacious handling of the globalization that seems more often to have gotten away from the EU. If not gotten the best of it.
After three decades, Brussels had not delivered. So the Brits reclaimed their sovereignty.
Can you blame them?
Eight years after the financial crisis, the EU had still not reemerged. In fact, most EU member states find themselves worse off than they were in 2007. Deleterious economic growth. Rampant unemployment. Massive migration crises. Only worsened by a lack of leadership that's now devolved into a crisis of confidence.
Many will argue that these problems were soluble. That Britain should be a part of the solution for its own sake. While others will counter that if these problems could be solved then they would have been years ago.
We'd argue that Britain has just initiated the solution. For its own sake. And ironically, perhaps for the rest of the peanut gallery. And why not? If your club membership brought nothing but spoiled kids and financial problems, would you not also quit the club?
Michael Gove, the British justice secretary (not to mention the most prominent dissenter on David Cameron's cabinet) has offered a litany of the problems associated with EU membership. Most center around his having to constantly contend with rules and regulations created at the European level. Rules and regulations that neither he nor Britain want. Yet, both are powerless to change. Regulations written by distant bureaucrats with whom British voters remain unfamiliar. Whose names they do not know. Who they never elected. Nor can remove from office.
Once enacted, these regulations written in another nation by unknown bureaucrats would become the laws of the kingdom.
"British democracy," Mr. Gove has explained, "is now no such thing." And so, Mr. Gove became one of Brexit's staunchest proponents. Analogizing the need to leave the EU to America's own declaration of independence. And he was mocked mightily for such sentiments.
Regardless, his statements - backed by last Thursday's results - show that liberty and democracy do, in fact, matter. Bureaucracy is tolerable when in support of improved fortunes and peace of mind. But bureaucracy for bureaucracy's sake? What's the point?
According to the Daily Express, there were 10,000 Brussels-based bureaucrats that drew higher salaries than British Prime Minister David Cameron. And in many cases, twice as much as Cameron's $142,500 per year salary.
So many bureaucrats. Yet, so little progress.
Fact is, the political elites across all nations did not see this coming. Because political elites - generally desirous of economic stability - tend to prefer the status quo. The journalists, politicians, financial media, corporate chiefs, pollsters and academics spent most of their time speaking with like-minded peers (other elites) from their own and other nations. All of whom were likely echoing their own sentiments. That remaining within the EU was in Britain's best interests as it would best preserve the status quo. So when the majority of Brits who felt differently chose to vote differently, the elites - not realizing how isolated and insular their positions - were shocked.
All of which has revealed the width and depth of the societal fault lines the West faces.
We inhabit a society in which the chasm between social classes runs so deep that a percentage of good, serious-minded people in the upper classes have never met a fellow countryman who would support exiting the EU. Have never associated with anyone who would support blocking immigration from Muslim nations. Have never consorted with anyone who might vote for Trump.
In fact, I was watching Real Time with Bill Maher Saturday evening. And one of Maher's guests - an attorney and MSNC talking head - was explaining how he knew nobody that planned to vote for Donald Trump. Almost bragging about it. So underscoring the vast disparity between between a member of the media and the general electorate. "Where," he sardonically whined, "are all these Trump supporters?"
But the polls reveal their growing presence. And increasingly, they realize that many of the "elites" do not empathize with nor understand their concerns. Which only serves to further stoke their discontent.
Can a democratic society so divided truly hope to survive? For how long? How can anyone in positions of leadership be so intellectually withdrawn from the ordinary masses? And if - as we've seen for decades in nations throughout the middle east - these issues worsen throughout the western nations in which they've begun to appear, can this type of experience be confined only to Great Britain? Or is Britain the first of many?
Last Thursday saw the tectonic plates shift throughout Western civilization. For the first time in a long while, every tool the elites tried failed them.
As the public so obviously strained against the chains held by Brussels' bureaucratic overlords, the "Remain" leadership overplayed their hand. Which only enhanced the "Exit" crowd's already sour mood.
They began with "trust-us, we-know-better-than-you" tactics. But those fell short. So they resorted to fear mongering. But that was ineffective. Which left them, in the end, simply whimpering - to no avail - to no one in particular.
David Cameron, prime minister and head of the conservative party, overdid it. Warning that a decision to leave would force Brits behind the "razor wire of recession." He even invoked "the dogs of WWII." Which, instead of stoking fear, simply fed into a mood of mass defiance.
Then, President Obama - unable to help himself - traipsed across the Atlantic to add his two cents. Notoriously threatening the British people that, if they opted for Brexit, they'd "find themselves in the back of the queu" for a U.S. trade deal. Which, by the way, Great Britain does not currently have. Despite Britain's status as America's largest investor.
As opposed to being frightened, Brits became all the more exasperated with bureaucrats telling them how to think, vote and behave. Revealing so much of the frustration felt across the western world. Where socioeconomic battles appear to have been engaged between the haves and the have-not-as-much crowd. The jet-setters verses the working class. The city dwellers verses the bumpkins.
Still, the mass media missed the bigger point. And continues to focus inexplicably on the votes losers. Even though the true story should be that 77 percent of all English districts voted to Brexit. More than half of all voters expressed a desire to leave the EU. Emphatically demonstrating the level of frustration with distant, incompetent and out-of-touch bureaucrats.
Brett was not merely a local, eurocentric happening. The referendum was representative of a more global phenomenon. Revealing a level of distrust with government across the developed world. In nations which have traditionally been favorably disposed towards democratic political institutions. Wretched approval ratings in the U.S. - and throughout the developed world - reflect that sentiment. Which may place establishment candidates on a rough road later this next year.
Brexit may be the beginning of a reset. One that encompasses national politics, economics, global markets and geopolitics. Or, not.
But one thing is certain. More nations will eventually push against the binds that constrain. Especially if and when the U.K. becomes Europe's fastest growing economy. Which could happen sooner than later, if Brexit terminates the prohibitive EU regulations under which Britain has operated. Investment inflows could increase. The Pound Sterling would strengthen. And as courts, property rights and taxation become reoriented (Brit-centric), the nation could flourish.
Revealing to all that, regardless of what bureaucrats would have you believe, no people, group or nation can truly prosper without prioritizing justice, independence, liberty and meritocracy above all else.
Was a time when Americans understood as much. Set such an example for the rest of the world to follow. Lately? We've lost our way. Having been falsely promised once too often that we could have everything. Something for nothing. Could live the dream, without the requisite effort that any achievement entails.
Pray all, dear friends, that we are perhaps witnessing the initial steps in what could be a much needed reawakening. And allow us - this Independence Day week - to revel in the knowledge that in this moment, we are all Brits.
Proudly facing a future of our choosing. Servants to none.

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