Brexit offers no exit for world woes

Wimbledon’s Centre Court. Photograph by Albert Lee.

Wimbledon’s Centre Court. Photograph by Albert Lee.

A few days ago, the most pressing question in the United Kingdom may have been would Andy Murray – recently reunited with coach Ivan Lendl – mount a successful campaign at Wimbledon next week to stop Novak Djokovic’s bid for the calendar Grand Slam.

“It’s the eye of the tiger. It’s the thrill of the fight, risin’ up to the challenge of our rival,” you know.

That was, as I said, a few days ago. And then came Brexit – the British exit from the European Union.

In the United States Friday, the Dow dropped 610 points – about the same amount it dropped when Wall Streeters returned to trading after 9/11.

That’s $830 billion in the U.S. and $2 trillion worldwide in one day as the U.K. shrank from the fifth largest economy to the sixth.

Thanks, England.

Brexit – which will go down as one of the dumbest, most disastrous decisions in recent world history – is the latest volley in the game between the open society proponents and their closed society opponents. The open society advocates are down two sets with Brexit and the Supreme Court’s decision to let stand a lower court decision that ruled President Barack Obama overreached in clearing a path for five million illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S.

I’m not advocating breaking the law. But those who think that denying immigrants mobility or a path to citizenship will restore jobs in the U.S. and the U.K. are cutting off their noses to spite their faces. All they’ve done is destabilize the world economy in the desperate hope of jobs that will never return because they weren’t lost to immigration or outsourcing but to technology.

That’s the dirty little secret that allows demagogues like Donald Trump to play on white pride and blue-collar prejudice. (The Donald was in Scotland during the vote, mistakenly congratulating the Scottish, who voted to stay in the EU, “for taking their country back.” ) Apart from a summer of economic instability, the effect of Brexit will be threefold:

  1. Since nature abhors a vacuum – including a political vacuum – look for the Chinese and Russians, not to mention the Iranians, to take advantage of a weakened E.U.

  2. The capital of the financial world – a title shared by London and New York – now falls on the capable shoulders of New York alone (just as the U.S., the sole superpower, is now more on its own than ever).

  3. As if there were any doubt, Brexit hands the White House to Hill, as the Latino vote falls into Hillary Clinton’s lap. “And she’ll be fine,” a lifelong Republican who plans to vote for Clinton told me. Said Repub was just back from Dublin and London, where, he said, people are appalled by Brexit.

Maybe so. But others have foolishly rushed into the wanton arms of economic uncertainty that will jeopardize millions of others and will not help them one whit.

Eye of the tiger. Thrill of the fight. Risin’ up to the challenge of a rival.

Djokovic versus Murray. An open society versus a closed one. Clinton versus Trump.

Game on.

Let’s play.