Saturday, June 25, 2016

After the Brexit win, the night is dark and full of terrors

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Most international and local medias reported the Brexit win as the beginning of the end of the world. Last Friday morning on TV felt like a scene from the movie “Independence Day”, right before the full-blown alien invasion.

On Friday morning, if you never heard about the Brexit and watched international news channels, you probably thought the aliens have just landed or the world was going to end in the next few minutes. Everyone looked grim, petrified, terrified even.

Until now – and for the next few weeks, if not months – the UK exit from the EU is going to take center stage, perhaps until the US presidential elections. So far, we’ve been hearing drums of catastrophes to come. Everyone turned into Cassandra, predicting a terrible future for Great Britain, more ghastly than the ten plagues of Egypt brought by the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Strangely, the wars in Syria and Iraq put together didn’t get such a dramatic coverage and such an international outcry, didn’t create such a worldwide wave of fear. As if the exit of any country from any economic union could be worse than two wars that gave birth to the most barbarian and most powerful terrorist organization in history: Daesh. Wars that killed hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, that caused an unprecedented refugee crisis, and that could have on many occasions triggered a third world war.

One can wonder why such disproportionate reactions to the Brexit win? The answer to that question may be in the headlines we’re reading today: "More and more Brexit voters are regretting their choice", "A million people have signed the petition for a second referendum", etc.

In so many words: when people vote the "wrong" way, their vote should be questioned and a new voting round should be held until the "right" vote wins. Which means the end of democracy. As imperfect as it may be, democracy is based on the assumption that voters are responsible and adult citizens. They get to decide their fate on regular basis, and governments are formed to apply what the majority has decided, whatever that decision is.

If citizens are considered irresponsible, treated like children and their choices questioned then dismissed, it’s no longer a democracy. If this were the case and the citizens vote can’t be trusted to vote the "right" way, who gets to decide what’s "right" and what’s "wrong"? Surely not democratically elected representatives. Then who? And appointed by whom?

An international and local media campaign followed by a widespread social network outcry can’t, and should never, replace elections or referendums, whatever their outcome. Is this what's in store? Is this what's hiding behind the worldwide armageddony uproar we've been witnessing since yesterday? Pressuring the British people with as many scare tactics as needed until it accepts a second referendum then votes to remain in the EU, because it's the "right" thing to do?

If I were a British citizen I would have definitely voted Bremain. But the British people have spoken and a majority chose the Brexit. This choice needs to be respected, and the UK exit from the EU needs to happen as smoothly as possible, in the best interest of everyone and especially of democracy.

It’s a matter of principle. If we believe in democracy, that is.

© Claude El Khal, 2016

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