Brexit, Trump, Bernie and
the Sit-In

By

Leonard Zwelling

         These are all symptoms.

         What’s the disease?

         One does not need to hold a clinical-pathologic conference
to determine what ails the body politic in the United Kingdom and in the United
States. It’s disgust.

         Yesterday, June 22, the Democratic members of the US House
of Representatives staged a sit-in led by a pretty good member of the Sit-In
Hall of Fame, John Lewis, begging for a vote on gun control legislation from
the Republican Speaker and his majority. Forget about it. Never going to
happen. Why?

         It’s simple really. Despite the fact that most Americans
support a ban on selling guns to people on no-fly lists, and favor the
restriction of access to assault rifles, and want people with mental health
problems kept away from guns, the National Rifle Association has a financial
and political hold on the GOP and those lawmakers do not want to be held
accountable for their votes against sane gun control laws by their
constituents. Thus, no vote.

         In Great Britain, many are sick and tired of having Europe’s
problems shipped across the channel to the UK. As was said to me when I was
there in April, they are tired of having the Germans decide how long their
cucumbers had to be. The UK also feels that it has absorbed sufficient numbers
of Europe’s immigrants and frankly wants no part of the pan-Europism of Angela
Merkel. It is likely that the vote will be close either way. (Addendum: They are leaving
and no one knows what that will mean except for now the pound and the markets
are down.)

         In our own country, both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are
also speaking to the inaction and ineptitude of the Congress and, to some
extent, the executive branch as well. The country is viewed as stagnant. The
uptick in the economy is being enjoyed by fewer Americans. College, a good job,
and health care continue to be beyond the reach of far too many Americans and
they see the “fat cats” in DC and on Wall Street dining on steak while they are
lucky to get hamburger. Why every American doesn’t just vote against his or her
current elected representative or senator is beyond me. Why do they keep electing
these guys? Answer, redistricting.

         The electoral college favors the Democrats and thus more
Dems have won the Presidency of late (1960, 1964, 1976, 1992, 1996, 2000 [oops],
2008, and 2012), but the GOP keeps winning legislatures at the state and federal
level on years ending in zero, so get to draw the census-based electoral
districts that determine how the local and House voting will go. In the South,
this has become “the deal.” The African-American districts are all Democratic,
leaving the white ones for the GOP.

         It’s all symptomatic of selfishness. Everyone is in it for
himself or herself and no one cares about the country. And the voters have had
enough of the political class.

         Bernie wanted them gone, but lost. Hillary had him
surrounded. She’s the last vestige of the old politics and even if she wins
will be a dinosaur trying to form a government in a sea of corruption to which
she has contributed mightily.

         Donald got it done. He could actually win if he stops
shooting himself in the foot or mouth on the way to Scotland. To be determined.

         I
am writing this on June 23, the day of the Brexit vote. No matter which way it
goes, the fact that Britain is having this vote at all is a repudiation of the
current relationship the UK has with Europe and the relationship the voters
have with their government.

         Finally, that neither the House nor Senate could get a vote
on some sort of law to constrain gun violence is shameful. The people want
this. That their elected representatives refuse to deal with this is disgusting.

         All
of these are symptoms. The disease is an out of control government unresponsive
and unaccountable to the people. To you in academic medicine, this should look
familiar.

Leonard Zwelling