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We’re told that one thing Brexit and the current political climate in the United States have in common is the issue of the free movement of people across international borders: after all, the EU has codified it and the Obama Administration has proclaimed it by fiat. It can be a difficult situation in the best of times, but in a period of economic upheaval, it can be an even more precarious situation.
During the Great Depression, there were protests against outsiders as well, though the only borders those migrants were crossing were those internal to the United States. Blacks migrated from the South in search of work in the automotive and other manufacturing centers of the North, while some 37,000 working-age men caught up in the Dust Bowl (plus their families) sought the greener pastures of California. According to a 2007 paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, “for every ten Dust Bowl migrants arriving in California, nearly seven male residents would have experienced some form of economic displacement.” That displacement meant that a little over 1 percent of the state’s male population left California to seek work elsewhere, while a similar number otherwise lost their full-time employment.
It’s hard enough to lose one’s economic viability to a fellow countryman; it’s harder when you feel your own government works against you in the interests of foreigners.
But is that really the case here? In the UK, it’s estimated that 3 million EU citizens live within its borders and two thirds of those occupy around 7 percent of the nation’s jobs. It’s hard to say how much resentment this has actually caused. In the latest numbers I could find (calendar year 2015), the UK had about 9 million “economically inactive” working-age citizens, 76 percent of whom were listed as “does not want a job.” There’s not much resentment to be had if you’re actually happy to be living on the dole.
I suspect it has more to do with the level of patriotism that has been drummed out of the population by the leftists in the academy. In the 2013 British Social Attitudes survey only 35 percent would admit to be being “very proud” of being British. In the same year the equivalent question was posed to Americans by Gallup with 85 percent of our population claiming great pride in being an American.
President Obama dismissed American Exceptionalism very early in his term. The Democrats desperately want to drive US numbers down to UK levels and to get Americans to embrace a globalist philosophy (which is very different from simply embracing a globalist, free trade philosophy.)
In a nutshell, this is the entirety of the whole Donald Trump campaign. The question that remains to be answered is, “Is that enough?”