I find the Brexit vote—and the furor over its apparently unexpected result—interesting because it indicates to me that the power of the political and economic elites to frighten us into submission is rapidly diminishing. This is likely only the start of the rejection of status quo politics and politicians on a much broader scale.
Whether one believes this rejection is the beginning of the next Dark Ages or a new emergence of democracy seems to hinge entirely on one’s personal beliefs and place in the current socio-economic pecking order, but the emotions on all sides are clearly running very high. The inevitable comparisons between the shocking Brexit and the (to some) befuddling ascendancy of Donald Trump has already become a shopworn trope of both the mainstream media and the parallel universe of the Internet—perhaps because the Donald and the Brexit seem such a bolt from the blue to our economic and political elites.
“What could it be that is ailing those pesky voters that they would so turn against our expertise and sage wisdom?” is likely the same question being asked everywhere a high percentage of Teslas, Mercedes, and Bentleys are parked. To say that there is—and has been for many decades—a growing gulf between those in control and those being controlled is rather like saying the Grand Canyon is a piddling little ditch. Given the current political ferment, it is not surprising that those in charge are busy circling the wagons. This kind of questioning of authority must be prevented—it might be contagious.
However, I suspect we have, like Alice, gone through the looking glass—and there is no turning back now. Whether this will lead to more defections from the EU, a Trump victory, voter demands for reforms, or (the nightmare of the 1%) an insistence on the arrests and prosecutions of those who pillaged our economy, we can expect more active, noisy, and rude wrangling over everything that we have told over the past few decades is being done for our own good.
There will, of course, be efforts made to bamboozle and badger us into mute compliance, but it may just be that the jig is up. There is, amazingly, one characteristic of Americans that the exceedingly annoyed pundits have forgotten. Although it is certain that horrid behavior is a trait of some individuals in our nation, there is one positive trait that we all seem to share: an intolerance for bullsh*t. The growing sense that we are being led down the garden path to disaster might be the undefinable—and uncontrollable—political force of the next few years. How this might tilt—or perhaps overturn—the table is a question worth pondering.