The People Who Oppose Brexit are Making a Huge Mistake by Trying to Undo It

I don’t have particularly strong opinions on Brexit either way. This is a business for the Brits to sort out, and they don’t really need the opinion of an American who’s never even been to Britain on whether they should stay in Europe or not. I do think, however, that the people who are freaking out about Brexit are making a huge mistake in the way they are currently going about it.

Anyone who has been a parent knows that one of the greatest challenges of parenthood is deciding when to let your kids learn from the pain of a decision they are about to make, and when to protect them from said pain by flat out preventing them from making the decision. Generally, it’s a balancing act between the severity and permanency of the pain on one hand and the value of the lesson learned on the other. Parents who never let their kids see the negative fruits of disregarding good advice are doing their kids a disservice; parents who let their kids stick paperclips into light sockets are likewise failures as parents.

Kids are one thing, adults are something else entirely. Kind of the whole premise behind a democratic society is that adults have to be given free reign to shoot themselves in the foot, if they see fit. Sure, there are always some anti-majoritarian safeguards put into place to stop momentary flares of public opinion from causing ruinous effects, but the Brexit referendum was the product of a great deal of planning and deliberation – the vote reflected what the people of Britain really think, after lengthy consideration of the issue.

For months, the “Stay” proponents, including a great many economic experts, have been warning Brexit proponents that Brexit would lead to a cavalcade of horribles.Adults in Britain rejected that advice and voted for it anyway. Now, in the short term, it appears that Britain is suffering severe financial crises and additional political ones (including the possible secession of Scotland) of exactly the sort that the “Stay” proponents warned about.

In response to this, some “Stay” proponents are proposing various mechanisms of undoing the vote, either by having it over again, or by just encouraging British political officials to ignore the results of the referendum. I suppose if you’re a “Stay” proponent – just like if you’re a #FreeTheDelegates proponent – it’s an attractive idea, saving the dumb voters from themselves. 

But in the end, both ideas will only exacerbate the underlying problems in the long term. If the referendum is ignored or undone, Brexit will continue to be a burr in the saddle of British politicians forever. Likewise, if the GOP delegates dump Trump, then Trumpism as a doctrine (and probably Trump as a person) will continue to vex the GOP in perpetuity.

If Brexit and Trump are bad ideas, the only way to kill them, now that they have been voted for, is to let them come to fruition. Let Trump have his run at Hillary, and lose 40+ states. Let the British economy crash and watch Scotland leave. Adults in a democracy do not respond to paternalism, nor will paternalism result in long-term change. The only thing that will do that is repentance, and the only thing that will bring that about is perdition.

So if you think Brexit was a horrible mistake, and you wish to never have it happen again, then you need to be prepared to allow it to run its course, at least for a while. Otherwise it will continue to return again and again to bite you in the hindquarters.