Alas, not so in the U.K., where We The People have just voted for secession from the European Union. I predict this will ultimately be catastrophic, not just for the U.K. but for Europe and the world. But that is not the reason this has shaken my faith in democracy, it's because, apparently, many British voters thought this was about Boaty McBoatface. Now that they've voted to leave the E.U., British voters are frantically Googling to figure out exactly what it is that they voted for.
The whole world is reeling after a milestone referendum in Britain to leave the European Union. And although leaders of the campaign to exit Europe are crowing over their victory, it seems many Britons may not even know what they had actually voted for.
Awakening to a stock market plunge and a precipitous decline in the value of the pound that Britain hasn't seen in more than 30 years, voters now face a series of economic shocks that analysts say will only worsen before they improve. The consequences of the leave vote will be felt worldwide, even here in the United States, and some British voters say they now regret casting a ballot in favor of Brexit.
"Even though I voted to leave, this morning I woke up and I just — the reality did actually hit me," one woman told the news channel ITV News. "If I'd had the opportunity to vote again, it would be to stay."Talk about too-little-too-late.
This response was my "favorite":
I thought remain would win. I didn't think my vote would mean anything. I'm very worried now.To whoever said that (the quote, unfortunately, was attributed merely to "a leave voter on the BBC"): you should be very worried. You helped hammer the last nail into the United Kingdom's coffin. Next year, Scotland is going to try again to break away from the U.K. and this time, with this precedent as a model, they will likely succeed. And then Northern Ireland will go. Why? Because they will want to get back into the E.U.! Unlike England, Scotland and Wales (God only knows what's going to happen to Wales -- there are nationalist grumblings there too), Northern Ireland has a land border with the Republic of Ireland, an E.U. member, and where, at least for the moment, sanity still prevails. Border checks are not going to be very popular on the Emerald Isle. Both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted overwhelmingly to Remain. Why should they be any happier about having their fates decided in Londan than London was about having its fate decided in Brussels?
But one thing is for certain: England is through. The "leave" advocates liked to brag about how the U.K. is the fifth largest economy in the world [UPDATE: not any more]. But that was only because it was part of the E.U. California has the sixth largest economy in the world, but I'm pretty sure it would not fare nearly as well if it seceded from the U.S.
If there is a silver lining to this mess it is that maybe, just maybe, it will awake people from their stupor and make them realize that votes really do have consequences. Maybe, just maybe, this will help the U.S. avoid a similar catastrophe this November.
But for England, it's too late. Their last ship just sailed.