This article is a publication for the website A Libertarian Future, which publishes US-related libertarian news stories. You can check out my author page here.
After UK Brexit-politician Nigel Farage had his appearance at a Donald Trump rally in Mississippi, Hillary Clinton lashed out on him and the campaign to the leave the European Union. She accused to opposition to the European Union of ‘having fuelled anti-immigrant sentiments’ and ‘being a brand of extreme nationalism’.
There is a clear reason why people like Hillary Clinton want you to like the European Union: it embodies in itself all the aspects of government growth and overreach that mainstream politicians are pushing for.
The European Union is constituted by three main political institutions: the Council, represented by the heads of state or government of the member states who try to defend their own interests, the Commission that strives towards more federalism and is a group of unknown ex-ministers who make all legislative proposals, and there is the European Parliament, that votes on the proposals but has no right to suggest legislation and is merely the arm of the major parties. This triangular force has done nothing but accumulate power over the years: the European Union has a common agricultural policy, common food safety standards and a myriad of common regulations of social behaviour such as smoking bans. The EU power structure is at times so complicated, containing numerous presidents, vice-presidents, co-presidents, permanent presidents, rotating presidencies, chairmen, high commissioners etc. that it’s difficult to really keep track of who is in charge and who decided on what. This has made the centralisation of power very easy for politicians.
When the British electorate was asked in 1975 to vote on the membership of the United Kingdom of what was then called the European Economic Community, they approved of the concept because it was all about free trade. Free trade in Europe created economic opportunity all over the continent and is a liberal value (note: the word “liberal” has kept its original meaning in Europe).
Yet the growing centralisation of power, the takeover of influence and intrusiveness of the EU had made the British electorate sceptical of this so called European integration. The principles of limited government and free markets have been values that have been a part of British culture and that resonated in the Brexit vote. The country of John Locke, Adam Smith or John Stuart Mill was always the rebellious member of a group that wanted to act as one union.
Now have there been anti-immigrant sentiments sparked in the Brexit campaign? Yes. As a libertarian you also have to contain your love for characters such as Nigel Farage, since their fear-mongering of immigrants shows economic illiteracy and is a sign of old-school populism. Yet only a quarter of Brexit voters are supporters of Farage’s party UKIP, thereby it’s safe to say that the claim that anti-immigrant sentiments lead to this vote is an overstatement.
On a visit to the UK, President Obama urged British voters to remain in the EU, and judging for Hillary Clinton’s reaction, the EU must be dear to mainstream politicians in the US. Their reactions send the message that they fear that the trend of small government and the concept that political decisions should be taken on a local level, is coming back. If #Brexit, why not #Texit?
If on an aeroplane one passenger complains about the service, chances are that other passengers will follow. The same works in politics, which is why Hillary Clinton wants you to like the EU. If tomorrow Europeans start questioning the big government bureaucracy in Brussels, why wouldn’t Americans start questioning the big government bureaucracy in Washington? That is how power starts to slip out of your hands in the long run.
What they fear is the people.
Pictures are Creative Commons.
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