Brexit in America
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The remarkable results of the British referendum on whether or not to leave the European Union have changed the face of the United Kingdom. It was a nationwide vote that demonstrated the power of right –wing populism. It shocked political pundits and the general citizenry in a fashion similar to the 2016 presidential election. The nativist sentiments of those who voted to leave the EU were likely borne from a population that felt left behind by a changing economy. Additionally cultural changes from shifting ethnic populations have left traditionalists feeling abandoned.
Kennesaw Mountain student Asmi Tanuli was living in Great Britain during the Brexit vote and the immediate fall out. When asked about the feeling in the country following the results, Tanuli explained, “The atmosphere completely changed. Everyone was disappointed in the results, everything to do with the economy dropped rapidly and it was fatal. Many people said that most of the people who voted out were mainly uneducated.” This description will feel familiar to those who dreaded a Trump outcome in the United States and read reports on the expected financial crisis to follow. In another similarity between Britain and the US, a major tenet of the American political system is the role media plays. When asked about the media’s response to the Brexit vote, Tanuli said, “The news covered the results by showing how statistics decreased rapidly. Even they seemed upset! Shockingly, the prime minister made a live speech and quit on that day – because he didn’t want to lead something he wasn’t passionate in or didn’t agree with.” When discussing the tensions created from the vote, Tanuli characterizes the situation as, “It did cause a lot of fiery debates. It didn’t cause tension between friends and family members but conversations did get more heated.” One of the greatest concerns when right-wing dominated movements succeed in this way is that disadvantaged groups will be further marginalized. Tanuli expressed that, “People who came from other parts of Europe to work or live there felt unwelcome to the country and there were a couple of small riots in towns which were overpopulated with surrounding European countries.”