Tuesday, February 11, 2020

January 31, 2020 Nationalism Day – Brexit and Impeachment Witnesses

The surge of nationalist enthusiasm that began in 2016 in the UK’s Brexit vote (June) and in the U.S. with Donald Trump’s election (November) reached an apex of success on January 31, 2020 when Britain formally and finally exited the European Union and when the U.S. Senate voted 51 to 49 to not call witnesses on Trump’s impeachment trial signaling the Senate’s Republican majority’s complete loyalty to the Trump presidency. The nationalism we are witnessing is a worldwide phenomenon evident in a host of countries. It is unlikely to go away and more likely to spread.

The causes are many – the end of the Cold War released countries to pursue their own agendas, including the non-democratic; the economic crisis of 2008 damaged confidence in western capitalist leadership; the rise of inequities driven by the imperatives of financial and technological globalization created the “leave behind” communities; and the proliferation of social media on smart personal devices are powerful tools for expressing grievances.

Importantly, the ascendance of nationalism has been greatly helped by the shift of America’s international priorities away from multi-lateral alliances and democracy promotion, to “America First,” along with the rise of authoritarian powers, Russia and China.

Although last Friday was a day of celebration for U.S. and British nationalists, their respective publics are bitterly divided concerning the turn in direction. In America, voters were divided on impeachment with a small majority in favor, and a bigger majority disapproving of Trump’s performance in office. Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, although just elected to what could be a 5-year term, is not much more popular and Brexit opinion today mirrors the close vote in June 2016.

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