The real reason Brexit matters to Americans

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The United Kingdom’s elections are often a leading indicator for our own, as is evidenced with the emergence of conservatism, centrist liberalism and fiscal austerity. Last week’s emphatic decision to leave the European Community could be the next one.

In some ways, it was predictable. Think about the psychological underpinnings of the European Union: In the 1950s, a consensus formed in Germany and France that to prevent further wars, Germany had to be closely tied to its neighbors. At the same time, Germans feared inflation was the incipient cause of its decline.

These two factors have driven behavior in Europe since then. France and Germany enjoyed closer economic integration, and that alleviated Germans’ fear of inflation. That bonding trend spread across the continent, explaining the desire for open borders between EU member nations. The union produced regulations promoting uniformity of labor markets and the austerity movement designed to help Europe recover from the 2008 recession. However, the EU, while offering solutions for its members has also created fundamental problems.

Immigration and government indebtedness have created fault lines in the EU’s strength. It couldn’t…

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