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A Little Rebellion Is A Good Thing

Ken Root, Agricultural Journalist

The irony of last week’s vote by the United Kingdom, to leave the European Union, is strong and sweet for many Americans. The British Empire that founded our colonies and tried to hold them in servitude, causing revolution, has now voted to rebel against the union that holds it in regulatory and economic compliance.

Americans have a lot of blood in common with Brits. My DNA shows I’m eighty percent from British ancestry. Men and women, originating on both sides of the Atlantic, shared the same cause in wars of the twentieth century where far too much blood was spilled.

The simple act of saying: “We want out of the European Union” parallels our “Declaration of Independence” on paper. What happened to separate the colonists from Britton in 1776 and what now will separate the island nation from the European Common Market, will be far different but have a similar result. I expect an amicable separation ,with some level of contempt, but no one knows.

Nationalism is an emotion. It flashes quickly and is always underlying social and business relationships. Publicity in the run-up to the Brexit vote was skewed toward institutions and government ministers hoping to maintain the status quo. But I am reminded of a comment made by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to James Adams in 1787:

I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”

He explained his view of different forms of government, from tribal Native Americans to those under coercive, forceful regimes. He concluded the afore mentioned premise with:

An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much. It is a (mediciene) necessary for the sound health of government.”

As we look at our woes and those of Briton, we see they are similar: taxation, regulation, immigration and unwelcome social change.All of these, together, finally got to the older and more rural British people, who had seen better times and they cast their ballots to break ranks with their economic allies, even though the repercussions may be harsh.

British farmers may well be hit first as their access to nearby markets may be restricted. European subsidies for farmers are quite large, by U.S. standards, and they may be greatly reduced if the economy struggles. A recession, unique to Britton, appears to be the worst fear of the common man. Whether the idealism of the vote will soften the reality of economic downturn, is yet to be determined.

There is also the question of whether the politicians are as committed to this vote for national sovereignty and independence as the people.  Resignations by the Prime Minister and other maneuvers may place a “Pro Exit” leader in power who realizes he will be the fall guy if the movement fails.  There is a lot of talk about addressing “Article Fifty” of the EU Treaty that allows member countries to ask to be removed from the Union.  It may never be filed.

Reaction by Britton in blocking refugees may be as quick as Donald Trump building a wall between us and Mexico.  In other words, it may not happen.  The divorce from the EU is going to take two years minimum.  The immigration crisis could be over by the time they can legally shut the gate.  The immigrants would then be inside an independent country that would have to pass laws to throw them out.  Remember the Brexit vote was only fifty-one percent, so the majority could swing the other way in the future.

Still, we Americans are savoring their victory.  Standing up to the man!  Slamming the screen door shut as you walk away!  It is as close to rebellion as we are likely to get…….except for the orange haired man running for President.  He fortuitously landed in Scotland on the morning of the announcement that the people wanted out of the EU.  He endorsed the movement and paralleled it to his campaign to take back America from the bureaucrats, democrats, socialists, liberal media, immigrants and ugly people.

We are observing a civilized revolution and either are appalled by it or love it.  If Britton shows an economic upturn or more social unity between now and November, more voters may move toward Trump’s professed goals for the U.S.  If not, reality may settle in as Americans realize there is more risk in independence than dependence.  Either way, Jefferson was right: “A little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing.”