As we prepare for our nation’s 240th birthday, we may be witnessing our mother country on the verge of dismemberment.
Great Britain narrowly voted last week to leave the European Union, an economic and political body of which it has been a principal member since joining in 1973.
The vote has split the island. Scots overwhelmingly to remain in the EU last week, but were outvoted by the Welsh and English.
The division in Great Britain has renewed calls for secession in Scotland. Scottish nationalists narrowly voted to remain in Britain two years ago in part because of EU membership.
Due to the “Brexit,” Northern Ireland is also considering secession from Britain with one of the factions suggesting union with Ireland to stay in the EU and another opting for independence.
Scottish and Northern Irish secession from the United States’ founding nation would be the equivalent of our parents getting a divorce well into our adulthood.
The unification of 13 British colonies into the United States between Lexington and Concord in 1775 and Yorktown in 1783 was a union forged in blood and revolution against a common foe for a common cause. President Andrew Jackson encapsulated our creation at Harvard University in 1833 with the statement “E pluribus unum, my friends, sine qua non.”
The grassroots alliance of disenfranchised colonists in the agricultural South, industrialized North, coastal port cities and the inland frontier battled imperialistic forces from across the sea for the rights of self-governance, local control and representation in a self-determining free state.
Conversely, the EU is the offspring of the United States’ Marshall Plan, an economic reconstruction effort to rebuild Western Europe after World War II. As European economies integrated after 1945, so too did their political alliances.
Prime ministers, presidents, premiers and parliaments joined their nations to the EU primarily for economic benefits, but never really connected their populations to a grand vision of political and social “Europeanness.” The EU still exists to benefit corporations, conglomerates and the business elite, leaving workers and average citizens uninspired and unconnected. Brexit highlights that fact as most Britons felt connected to the EU through their wallets, but not their hearts and minds.
Unlike the American Constitution, there is no single governing EU document, but instead a collection of 12 international treaties, debated by the continent’s national parliaments, but which remain unread by most Europeans. The attempt to write a single constitution failed in 2004 and was instead watered down into the 2007 Treaty of Lisbon.
Conversely, the American Constitution’s 1789 preamble is still memorized by schoolchildren, and sums up what it means to be American succinctly: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity ….”
Though it seemed like the EU was slowly moving toward a U.S.-style federation of heterogeneous states sharing common laws but with regional diversity, Brexit has seemingly ended the experiment.
There are now calls to revisit the vote in Great Britain and Article 50, which would irreversibly trigger the divorce, may not be invoked, but even this is due to the pound’s sudden drop in value and Great Britain facing recession, not because Britons are inspired by pan-Europeanism.
If the European Union does not survive, if Great Britain ceases to be, Americans should not doubt how our melting pot of cultures, languages, faiths, customs and creeds forms a diverse nation, which still endures not because of purely economic unity, but because of our belief that we are stronger people united as one. BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS