It is certainly a tense time for politics in the United States, from the election of President Donald Trump to his recent controversial remarks following the neo-Nazi riots that were driven by hatred in Charlottesville, Virginia. Since our country has its own serious issues going on, it is easy to ignore or forget about what else is happening throughout the globe and how it impacts our country.
I studied abroad in London last semester, and from an economic standpoint, it was a convenient time for me to do so. After the Brexit referendum on June 23, 2016, where 51.9 percent of British voters were in favor of Brexit and won by a small margin, the pound significantly weakened against the dollar. As a result, it became less expensive for Americans to travel to the United Kingdom, and the pound may drop even more once Britain officially leaves the European Union in approximately March 2019.
This slight ease on my bank account worked out well for me, although I did not fully understand the severity of the situation before departing for London. It was not until taking a course abroad about British history and politics that it all clicked. It was time to think about the more significant impacts on both Britain and the United States rather than only thinking about how it affects myself and other tourists.
Soon after the announcement of Brexit, it was the uncertainty of investors that made British stocks plummet along with the pound. However, according to CNN, Wall Street went down by 500 points at the same time as a direct result, so it economically impacted the United States as well. In addition, a large amount of U.S. companies invest in the United Kingdom. The United States directly invested roughly $588 billion in the United Kingdom in 2014. Therefore, if Britain experiences increased unemployment due to Brexit, it will negatively impact our economy as well.
In terms of trade relations, when Britain leaves the EU, the United States will no longer prioritize trading with Britain. According to former President Barack Obama, they would be put to the “back of the queue” for trading because the United States puts the EU first. However, without Britain in the EU, the United States will have less leverage in EU relations. The United States and United Kingdom have a “special relationship,” but with all of the newly inflicted circumstances of Brexit, it can certainly be hindered.
Trump can also use Brexit as ammunition for other ideas that he may have in mind. He tweeted about Brexit: “They took their country back, just like we will take America back.” This might have inspired his “Make America Great Again” campaign, which is undesirable to his opponents. In fact, in possible extreme cases, Brexit can result in deportation of immigrants who came to Britain legally to become EU citizens.
Brexit is a relevant example of why everyone should vote, including young people. Brexit should be used as a reference for all developed countries about how imperative it is to vote. According to BBC News, only 71.8 percent of British citizens voted in the referendum. If the voting turnout was 100 percent, I firmly believe that the results would have been different, as the results were incredibly close.
Similarly, the United States can relate because the results of our most recent presidential election certainly could have been different if we had all voted. According to The Telegraph, only 58 percent of registered voters in the United States voted in the 2016 election.
As U.S. citizens, we should pay attention to events such as Brexit to be informed about what is going on throughout the globe, how we are impacted, how other countries are impacted and how we can learn from these situations. We certainly have a lot going on in our current political climate, but it does not hurt to recognize the struggles of others. We should also take time to look at the bigger picture and reflect upon how these situations impact the United States and other nations in the long term. The first step is for us to remove our selfish notions from the situation and to take the focus off of how it can benefit us, but rather understand the entire situation as a whole. This is the best way for everyone to stay informed and educated.
Brad Calendrillo is a junior majoring in English.