There is considerable excitement about the United Kingdom’s Brexit decision to leave the European Union. Many people rightly interpret the vote as a rejection of wrongheaded immigration policies, oppressive regulations and stifling bureaucratic rule from the central European government in Brussels. Brexit was also clearly motivated by a desire to recover national identity and help voters regain control of their country and its future.
On this side of the Atlantic, many are now saying that America needs its own Brexit, in the form of cutting down to size a federal government that has become bloated and oppressive, and false elites who are corrupt and could care less about the needs and wishes of the people. These Americans echo the same desire to rescue the country from an unhealthy and crippling control. All over the world, restless people are supposedly thinking about Brexiting. Indeed, Brexit has now become a verb to signal any move to disentangle oneself from the overwhelming power of a corrupt establishment.
In all this Brexit talk, what people are brexiting from seems to be much clearer than what they are brexiting to.
A Brexit, its advocates say, is easy. You simply abandon the status quo. It is as if we are living in a land with unbearable conditions and suddenly come upon some bridges that will take us off the mainland to another landmass. We quickly take the closest bridge and find ourselves rightfully relieved to leave behind the land of socialist chaos and control.
However, what happens after a Brexit is often left vague and undefined by its proponents. It is as if the bridge’s opposite end fades into mist and we cannot see where the bridge is taking us.
This lack of clarity as to our future risks transforming the Brexit bridge into the proverbial bridge to nowhere. It is no longer the end, but the means. Instead of being the bridge that spans our problem and takes us where we want to go, it morphs into a variation of Churchill’s well-known assessment of Communist Russia, “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”
Thus, if a Brexit is to be successful, we need to ask three questions to determine whether this is the bridge we are looking for, or if it is just a bridge to nowhere. Where do we want to go? Who will take us there? How will these leaders accomplish this?
Where we want to go. Will society be better? Moral? More civil? The society we want must be one where character thrives, families flourish and life is respected in all its phases. It must be one where the scourge of political correctness in its totality (not just in one or another field) will be rejected and sanity restored. In this society that has made its return to order, the moral relativism that has destroyed so many certainties and broken the lives of so many individuals must be abandoned as well. In other words, as we Brexit, we must make sure we are not bringing with us the same problems from which we are Brexiting, albeit on a smaller scale. We must ensure that in freeing ourselves from intolerable superstructures, we are not establishing a no less deadly tangle of subcultures that will fracture the republic into a thousand pieces. For once the Brexit principle is admitted, discontents will Brexit into ever smaller units, thus destroying the nation.
Who will take us there? Who will lead our Brexit? Are they good, virtuous and honest individuals to whom we can trust our best aspirations? Are they firmly grounded in principles, and honor-bound, so that they too are not corrupted like the leaders they are replacing? Do they hold themselves accountable to God whose authority and rights are denied today by our militant secularist society? Do they uphold a higher and immutable law that bases itself on our human nature, a law which all three branches of government today reject?
How this will be accomplished. These new leaders certainly must have goals and plans to implement the changes they envision. They must take measures to ensure they do not fall into the same corrupting pitfalls of power that have been the bane of those who they now replace. It is to be wondered by what means they will achieve that unity of hearts and minds needed to establish some form of national identity that all crave.
Like it or not, the unbearable situation in which we find ourselves comes from a lack of a moral compass and enduring values. We do well to leave this intolerable situation in search of bridges leading to authentic and principled solutions.
However, if we Brexit without considering where we are going, it will be a Brexit to nowhere.
John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, and author of the book Return to Order, as well as the author of hundreds of published articles. He lives in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania where he is the vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.