Brexit: A Failure Of Democracy?

Brexit: A Failure Or A Success For Democracy
Kenneth Rogoff and Martin Feldstein, both economics professors at Harvard University, have very different reactions to the Brexit vote, particularly whether the outcome represents an example of democracy in action or is simply a distortion of its true meaning.

Rogoff holds the view that if the vote reflects democracy in real time, then it is proven to be a failure. The crux of his argument lies in the fact that a major and historic decision was made without proper debate and lacked a sufficient system of checks and balances that a choice of this consequence requires.

He asserts that any decision that arises from simple majority rule is a “perversion” of the term democracy.

“Modern democracies have evolved systems of checks and balances to protect the interests of minorities and to avoid making uninformed decisions with catastrophic consequences. The greater and more lasting the decision, the higher the hurdles.

“That’s why enacting, say, a constitutional amendment generally requires clearing far higher hurdles than passing a spending bill. Yet the current international standard for breaking up a country is arguably less demanding than a vote for lowering the drinking age,” he writes.

Feldstein, who served in the Reagan administration and was a member of appointed to President Bush’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, saw the vote as more than voters rejecting lax immigration policies. He sees it from the vantage point of a British population exerting its independence from a European Union that was infringing on its sovereignty by way of increased regulation and bureaucratic overreach.

The experiment of the EU had morphed from nations sharing a common goal of economic prosperity through trade into a pact that saw an increasing amount of national shifted to EU institutions without any formal agreement from the UK’s government or people.

“Although pro-Brexit voters worry about the resulting pressure on UK wages, they generally do not reject the original goals of increased trade and capital flows that are the essence of globalization. Some Brexit defenders could point to the example of the successful US free-trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, which contains no provision for labor mobility,” argues Feldstein.

Columnist Responds To “Myth Of Cosmopolitanism” Op-Ed
Daniel Drezner of the Washington Post counters the claims made in a recent column by New York Times’ columnist Russ Douthat which asserts cosmopolitans often do not practice what they preach.

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