Tuesday, June 28, 2016

An Open Letter on Brexit to Trump's Angry Old Working-Class White Male Supporters

First off, I want to say for the record that I truly understand your frustration, your anger, your general discontent with income inequality, your fears of terrorism and your desire for secure borders, homeland security, and real change. The poor and middle classes should share in America's wealth and prosperity by having good jobs, rising wages, affordable health care, housing and education, and a chance to live out the American dream that our parents and grandparents--most of them immigrants--experienced. I get all of that. But what I don't get is your support for Donald Trump and your belief that he is the answer to your problems.

Also for the record, I am not the product of a wealthy real estate family...or any wealthy family. My father drove a New York City taxi for 35 years. The job took such a toll on him physically that he would often come home bent over in a 90° angle from sitting behind the wheel 15 hours a day. Nobody handed him anything. I shared a room with two brothers, and when I was old enough to work (14) my parents had me pay room and board. I paid my way through college, holding down two jobs while squeezing in my studies, racking up thousands in student loan debt that took me a decade to pay off.

Just to be clear, and regardless of my current political/socioeconomic status, what I've earned, and what I've saved, like you, is all I have. There is no inheritance waiting in the wings. As the years quickly pass, I've excitedly looked forward to the day when I can retire, sit on a park bench, read the paper, feed some pigeons, and live out my remaining days in peace, tranquility and relative financial comfort and security. Which is why I need to issue you a very serious warning. A grave warning for all of us.

Take a look at the fallout from Brexit, the United Kingdom's controversial and, to many, shocking exit from the European Union, thus ending a 40-year relationship with this giant economic and political bloc. The referendum, which ended in a 52-48 vote, was largely fueled by the same type of voter anger, frustration and disenchantment that you feel. But there's a tremendous cost to voting out of anger and emotion. Of sending "protest" votes. The consequences can be devastating and irreversible, as the Brits are now experiencing. The political system collapses, the currency craters, financial markets tank, and the economy risks falling into a protracted tailspin, wiping out trillions in savings and wealth in the blink of an eye.

The parallels between the intense economic concerns and nationalistic motives behind the Brexit vote, and the sentiment that's fueling Trump's incendiary campaign, are more than worth noting. To be sure, what happened across the Atlantic could very well happen here. Think about that for a second. Think about your retirement, your savings, the plans you hatched decades ago and how quickly it all could disappear if the American economy and political system is turned on its head and thrown into chaos with the election of Trump, a divisive, polarizing figure with zero political experience, and with rapidly dwindling faith and trust within the Republican Party, in the financial community and on Wall Street, and on the global stage.

In just the past two trading sessions alone the Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped almost 900 points and 5%. And we may not be done with the carnage yet. Keep in mind these losses are merely the impact of what's taking place in England which, by the way, is not even among our top five trading partners. Think about what would happen to the U.S. markets if this was our political and economic system that was thrown into complete disorder and confusion. The Brits are already having serious buyers' remorse, evidenced by the over 4-million citizens who've signed a petition calling for a new referendum. The Leave movement's leaders are already backing off their promises regarding key issues such as health care and immigration, realizing that the lies which fueled their hate-filled campaign can't realistically result in policy or change. Don't make the same horrible mistake British voters now know they've made.

I know you're not terribly fond of Hillary Clinton. Ok, some of you despite and hate her and can't fathom her back in the White House, this time sitting in the Oval Office as president and commander-in-chief. But let me assure you this: a Clinton presidency will not cause an upheaval in our political and economic system. The dollar will not plunge to 30-year lows. The stock markets will not devolve into crisis, triggering massive selloffs domestically and from investors abroad. America's credit ratings will not be lowered. There will not be a run on banks by terrified small investors like you. You will not lose everything you've worked hard for your whole life because we have an "un-PC" self-serving racist maniac in charge. You may not like Hillary or her politics, but you will be able to sleep at night with Madam President at the helm.

But I will promise you this: "President Trump" will make you regret the day you ever pulled the lever for him. He'll renege on his wild promises, just as he's already backing off the Muslim ban. The anger you feel now will be nothing like the anger you'll feel when you see your retirement account cut in half, or worse. America won't feel so great again. You know the old adage, be careful what you wish for. Because as John Oliver so aptly put it, "there are no fucking do-overs."

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