What the Brexit Vote Should Teach America

As a dual citizen of America and Britain (albeit one who cannot vote), the results of the EU Referendum have left me disappointed in British citizens. Voting to leave the EU is an unwise decision that has already had significant consequences, including the value of the pound dropping to a 30-year low and the economy going into a “free fall”, according to some economic experts. David Cameron, Britain’s Prime Minister, has resigned. Scotland may hold their own referendum and attempt to leave the United Kingdom again. Some political analysts believe that this vote may lead other countries to attempt to the EU, hurting the supranational organization. Britain is entering an era of uncertainty and chaos, one that was brought on by xenophobia, short-sightedness and backward thinking.

However, this isn’t only a grave misstep for Britain- it is a warning for America. As we approach the general election, Donald Trump, the (and I am HORRIFIED to say this) Republican nominee, continues to gain speed. While people may say (and most hope) that someone like Trump could never possibly win the general election, Brexit serves as a warning that racism and xenophobia actually can, astoundingly, prevail over common sense. Trump stated that he was proud that Britain had “taken back their country,” continuing his promotion of division rather than working together. Trump’s support of Brexit demonstrates to American citizens that similar actions may occur under his administration, a warning we should not take lightly.

While we are thousands of miles apart, Britain and America are very similar. A particularly saddening similarity is that many citizens of both countries resent immigrants, especially refugees from Syria. This xenophobia is what allowed the Brexit vote to go the way it did, combined with resentment of the establishment, and the same thing will happen in America in November if we aren’t careful. And for those who say that a man like Trump can’t possibly win, I say just look at the similarities between him and Nigel Farage, one of the most vocal people for the Leave option. They both make racist but factually incorrect statements, are viewed as a joke or a long shot, and are said to be everything that is wrong with their party. Yet, last night Nigel Farage won; What’s to stop Donald Trump from doing the same in November?

If we allow xenophobic politicians to be treated as though they are credible, decent leaders, we may have a Trump administration that, in my opinion, will destroy America socially, economically and politically and will drastically change the world…and not for the better. America should not make the same mistake in November that Britain did last night- ignoring the fact that problematic politicians (Donald Trump and Nigel Farage), as much as they seem like a joke, have widespread support and can win if something is not done to stop them. Brexit was a mistake. Let’s just hope the general election in November 2016 isn’t one too.

What Jo Cox’s Murder Says about Women in Power

I’m a British citizen currently visiting the UK to see my family, and I was here when news broke of MP Jo Cox’s murder. The event was tragic, but as facts came to light it became clear to me that this murder was not only devastating to her family, friends and colleagues; It was a devastating public statement about women who are in politics.

Jo Cox’s husband, along with many others, has stated that he believes that her killer was motivated by Jo’s political beliefs and outspoken nature in Parliament. While I cannot comment on Cox’s political beliefs, as I do not know them well enough to do them and her career justice, I do know this: Killing a woman for her political beliefs is outright sexism and, in my opinion, a hate crime.

Women in countries all over the world have their opinions suppressed, and are not allowed to speak their minds. Luckily, Britain is not such a country- women can hold powerful roles in government. However, women who dare to possess strong views are often shamed. They are name-called and treated as less than their male superiors- many of them face hatred and threats, like Jo Cox did, except this time she paid with her life. She died far too young because a man didn’t like that her political views. He didn’t like that she was expressing her beliefs and working for what she deemed just causes- He hated her for doing her job. In the free world we do not kill people who hold opposing viewpoints. It is clear, in my mind, that Jo was specifically targeted because she was an outspoken female MP, and she was vocal on issues of controversy like the rampant Islamophobia in her constituency, and that is a sad state of affairs. Women in power are too often seen as a threat, and they are not. Women have as much right to be in power as men do, and they have the right to hold power without fearing for their lives.

So, as many of us mourn Jo Cox, think about this: Why, when women allow their voices to be heard and place themselves at the metaphorical table, do we shame them and treat their presence as abnormal? Why are women judged for having strong views?