In fact, as I’m sure you’ve heard, the GOP’s presumptive nominee was so giddy that he mistakenly congratulated Scotland , where he was promoting the opening of his new golf resort, Trump Turnberry . “They took their country back, just like we will take America back,’’ he tweeted, provoking rejoinders like, “Scotland voted Remain, you weapons-grade plum.’’
Trump not only didn’t hesitate to draw a line between the Britain-first crowd and his own supporters, but attributed both the Brexit decision and his own appeal to isolationist, anti-free trade, anti-immigration feeling. One emotion in particular is at work, he said.
"People are angry all over the world. They're angry over borders, they're angry over people coming into the country and taking over and nobody even knows who they are. They're angry about many, many things in the U.K., the U.S. and many other places.”
The Brexit/Trump parallel isn’t perfect, of course; for one thing, no one will need to Google Donald J. Trump before or after voting for him.
But anti-EU and pro-Trump voters share a weariness to the bone with rocking along as we have been, using our inside voices and deferring to the intelligentsia.
One thing fans find so refreshing about the Queens-born billionaire is that he brags about acts that others try to hide, like making money off the misery of others. So just as he said in 2006 that “I sort of hope ” the housing market crashes because he’d profit from the crisis, he’s now openly licking his chops over the dollars to be made as a result of the British currency taking a belly flop.
“When the pound goes down, more people are coming to Turnberry, frankly,’’ he said at a news conference in which he also praised Vladimir Putin for having the good taste to say nice things about him.
The EU is a plump, juicy target for populists on both the right and left; when I was an intern in the press office of its European Commission in Brussels decades ago, the Eurocrats’ days seemed more endless than enjoyable, as at least to my green American eye they struggled to fill the time between the daily noon press briefings – extremely well-attended, since cocktails were served — long lunches, and the keenly anticipated arrival of the afternoon sweets cart.
But Europe has also done a lot for its members, bringing stability, peace and prosperity along with all of those stultifying regulations, even if the ’08 global meltdown that Trump had “sort of” hoped for did hit them particularly hard.
All of the grown-ups in the establishment said that leaving the E.U. would only hurt the U.K.’s economy, in both the short and long term, but voters answered in essence that they were so beleaguered by immigrants from other, poorer EU countries that they didn’t want to hear it.
Which does sound a lot like the willingness to “burn it down” that you repeatedly hear from anti-establishment Republicans at Trump rallies. The way Bernie Sanders supporters express this same sentiment is, “We need a revolution, not tinkering at the margins.”
It’s where left and right converge that you meet the voters who might yet make Trump president — Americans who think that institutions and so-called experts and the established order have let us down. In their view, the coverage of both Brexit and the Donald boils down to a bunch of smug elitists transcribing one another.
At this intersection, the enraged consensus is that the status quo is so unjust and acceptable that a proven up-ender might be just what we need.
That Hillary Clinton uses the same slogan — “Stronger Together” — that the “remain” in the EU campaign did only underscores that the implied message that we must “stay the course” isn’t as pulse-quickening as the left’s “Feel the Bern” or the right’s “Burn. It. Down.” All those years mastering her emotions and here she is, up against someone who in his every utterance argues that impulse control is for sissies.
While we wait to see if the Brexit is followed by a “Make America Great Again” Trexit in November, we can’t ignore two modest lessons from our British cousins.
First, walking out is hardly ever as enjoyable as in the fantasy in which you tell them what they can do with their rules.
And whatever the polls say, do show up to cast a ballot.