Watching the Brexit campaign generated mixed feelings: it was a little like the man who saw his mother-in-law drive his new Mercedes off a cliff. In the United Kingdom, some people who hated free trade, immigration and market innovation challenged the officious, wannabe superstate headquartered in Brussels. Who to cheer for?
We should cheer for the Brexiteers, who deserve at least a couple of hurrahs. The European Union created a common market throughout the continent, an undoubted good, but since then has focused on becoming a meddling Leviathan like Washington, DC. For Britain, the virtues of remaining appeared to pale in comparison to the likely costs of continued subservience to Brussels. In a variety of imperfect ways, Brexit promoted liberty, community, democracy and the rule of law. In short, the good guys won.
Here are sixteen reasons why the United Kingdom was better off Brexiting:
1. Average folks took on the commanding heights of politics, business, journalism and academia and triumphed. Obviously, the “little guy” isn’t always right, but the fact he can win demonstrates that a system whose pathways remain open to those the Bible refer to as “the least of these.” The wealthiest, best-organized and most publicized factions don’t always win.
2. Told to choose between economic bounty and self-governance, a majority of Britons chose the latter. It’s a false choice in this case, but people recognized that the sum of human existence is not material. The problem is not just the decisions previously taken away from those elected to govern the UK; it’s also the decisions that would have been taken away in the future had “Remain” won.
3. Those governed decided that they should make fundamental decisions about who would rule over them. The Eurocrats, a gaggle of politicians, bureaucrats, journalists, academics, lobbyists and businessmen were determined to achieve their ends no matter what the European people thought. A constitution rejected? Use a treaty. A treaty rejected? Vote again. A busted monetary union? Force a political union. And never, ever consult the public. No longer, said the British.
4. The rule of law will be respected—or at least not flagrantly flouted. Those signing up as EU members did not realize that the EU would be a transfer union. At least some countries likely would not have ratified the Lisbon Treaty, expanding Brussels’ writ, had they realized that explicit strictures against bailouts would be ostentatiously ignored. No doubt the usual suspects believed they were doing the Lord’s work by violating legal guarantees. But today no one living under the EU has any assurance that laws made, rules issued and promises offered would be kept.
5. Routine incantations of the need for “more Europe” and importance of “European solidarity” no longer will be confused with arguments. Those in charge always want more—more money to distribute, publicity to satisfy, rules to enforce and power to wield. Their vision of “more Europe” is Europe giving them more. “European solidarity” means others caring for them after they have wasted everything under their control.
6. Democracy will have triumphed over bureaucratic inertia. The EU is known for its “democratic deficit”, a Hydra-headed, unelected executive and a parliament chosen by people usually voting on domestic issues, using the polls for the European Parliament to punish errant governments at home. The Brussels bureaucracy has become the perfect means to impose policies that lack political support among member governments and peoples.
7. The pretensions of the EU as Weltmacht never looked so silly. There is a flag that no one salutes, and an anthem no one sings. There are multiple presidents: three, four or five? There is enervating duplication, including an EU foreign minister and diplomatic service along with those representing twenty-eight individual member states. Constant talk of creating a continental military while countries steadily shrink military outlays. Insistence that all which is good and decent comes from the EU as ever more people organize and vote against it.
8. The great satisfaction of watching smug smiles disappear from the faces of Eurocrats on both sides of the English Channel. The Brexit battle never was supposed to be a fair contest. It was intended to solve a Tory political problem, allowing the irreconcilables to make fools of themselves while the best and brightest led voters to the light. But it didn’t work out that way.
9. Demonstrating that other EU members can throw off the cloak of, if not tyranny, bureaucratic obsession. Most previous continental episodes of unplanned independent thinking were crushed—the French and Dutch votes against the constitution, the Irish vote against the Treaty of Lisbon, opposition to bailouts and European Central Bank abuses. The Eurocrats always seemed to win. Until now.
10. The recognition that most human decisions are not wrong but different, and need not be uniform across a continent, especially one made up of such diverse peoples. Common economic regulations, currencies, employment policies, weights and measures, farm programs and legal rights are convenient. However, convenience is not the highest good. People often value different approaches and standards and are entitled to live their lives as they wish, even if inconsistent with the continent’s most progressive thinking.