By Darrell Delamaide
Now that Britain has done the unthinkable and voted to leave the European Union, the critics are ruthless in their condemnation of Prime Minister David Cameron for his “irresponsible act” in calling the referendum in the first place.
As if it were his fault.
As if he was responsible for the bloated Brussels bureaucracy and undemocratic governance structure in the EU.
As if he were to blame for the domination of an unequal union by a German chancellor responsive and accountable only to her own domestic political concerns.
Yes, Cameron will step down, as political accountability in a parliamentary system demands. He miscalculated and lost big time, staking his political future on a Remain vote.
It was Martin Wolf, the prestigious columnist for the Financial Times, who last month labeled the referendum on a British exit from the EU — widely known as Brexit – as “the most irresponsible act by a British government in my lifetime.”
The nerve of the leader of one of the world’s oldest democracies to actually let the voting public decide the future of the nation.
Cameron surely would have been much smarter to follow the lead of the political elites in other countries and to ignore the rising hostility to a union that seems to be stifling progress rather than increasing prosperity for all.
Instead, he committed the unforgivable sin of allowing democracy to function, a debate to be held, and voters to choose.
In doing so, Cameron has opened a Pandora’s box of insurgency against the political elite in Europe.
The British vote in favor of leaving the EU will embolden euroskeptic forces in other European countries to demand their own referendums or to win sufficient support in their parliaments to break with Brussels if it cannot implement fundamental reforms.
If it had not been Cameron in Britain, it would have been another leader in another country, because the forces hostile to Europe were going to blow the lid off that box sooner or later.
Another hoary establishment mouthpiece, the New York Times, joined the chorus of criticism this week, proclaiming in a headline that with the referendum, Cameron “faces problem of his own making.”
Could it not just as easily read that Brussels faces a problem of its own making? That German Chancellor Angela Merkel faces a problem of her own making?
Financial markets are throwing a colossal tantrum because investment banks and other big market players placed their Brexit bets wrong.
But investors had better get used to a lot of volatility because Brexit is just the beginning.
A restless, beaten-down public has drawn the first blood in a rebellion against a neoliberal economic orthodoxy committed to globalization that has sucked the life out of whole communities and blighted the future of a generation.
Spanish voters will go the polls Sunday in an attempt to correct December’s indecisive national elections, splitting support among four parties unable to agree on a governing coalition. The insurgent left-wing party Podemos may gain added momentum from the Brexit victory.
Marine Le Pen, leader of the right-wing French National Front, is already hailing the Brexit vote as a model for how voters can reclaim their “liberty,” as she gears up for France’s presidential election next year.
In Italy, the populist Five Star Movement, fresh from its victories in the mayoral contests in Rome and Turin, will continue its campaign to undermine the center-left government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
In the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, and even Germany, right-wing euroskeptic parties are winning support and gaining momentum.
Nor is the anti-establishment rebellion confined to Europe. In the U.S., the insurgent campaigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have resonated with profoundly dissatisfied voters who feel they are getting shafted by a “rigged” economic system.
Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, is the only establishment politician left standing in the race for the White House and there is no guarantee that she will prevail in November.
Brexit may be the thread that ultimately unravels the cozy system that enriches a few while leaving the multitude to scrape by, but when the emperor stands there with no clothes, it won’t be just Britain that feels the impact.
And you can’t blame David Cameron for all that.