I was at the levee, a seedy little dive in south Kansas City, MO when an ominous CNN news bulletin buzzed my iPhone to life. My eyes hovered down towards the screen, and I was instantly whacked into a rattled ball of nerves.
It was reggae night at the Levee and it also happened to be my birthday. The atmosphere was light and jovial. I enjoyed a Red Stripe with my friends and the band covered ‘Lively up yourself’. I was feeling good, at least until 11:01 p.m. CT.
“U.K. votes to leave the European Union. Results show Leave campaign winning with over 51% of the vote”, flashed across the screen.
Bam. As if a baseball bat swatted me across the mouth I felt stunned and confused. My stomach hit the floor and the room morphed into a post-apocalyptic scene. Smiling young people clutched beers and bobbed up and down along with the chick-chack of the reggae music. The chattering and laughter seemed almost distant, muffled in a grim haze. The news was so unexpected and shocking that I began twitching. My eyes darted around the room, and I struggled to maintain.
I snapped a screenshot of the bulletin. I tapped my friend on the shoulder and thrusted the phone into his face. He scanned it and fixed me with a wide-eyed stare. I showed the bulletin to another friend sitting on the other side of the table, and after reading it a second time, she looked at me and mouthed, “what… the… fuck”, accompanying each word with a tiny back and forth movement of the head.
The band finished a set and the people clapped and whooped. A skinny, middle aged white woman in a flowing gown ululated from the other side of the bar.
I b-lined to the door and went outside for some air. My buddy was already outside smoking a cigarette and we exchanged concerned looks. I stared down at the sidewalk. “Dude, this is big,” I muttered. He took a draw and reflected in silence. “This will give the Trump campaign a tailwind,” I added.
A group of people glided across the parking lot, chuckling and jabbering and sliding towards the Levee. My friend stabbed out a cigarette into an ashtray, coughed, and said, “it’s not that big of a deal, a tiny footnote… not a big deal.” His words registered like some kind of bleak incantation.
“A tiny footnote”, in history, presumably.
REPORT FROM THE ROCKIES
About an hour later I was standing on some smoky, dimly lit outdoor patio that seemed to exude a kind of slumping, third-world degeneracy. People chatted and the mood was positive, however I felt tense and trapped.
Moments later, I received a private Facebook message from a friend of mine who is a financial analyst in Denver. The message contained a screenshot of a page off cnbc.com with a headline, “US futures take a dive”, and a bunch of red arrows pointing down. “DOW FUT -730.00 (-4.07%), S&P FUT -106.75 (-5.07%)”, etc.
After looking over the thing, I was overcome with a stifling sense of fear and loathing. People were lined up outside of the Levee, and the reggae band was covering another upbeat Bob Marley song.
It was impossible to shake the notion that at that very moment, the world was shaking in the wake of a referendum that could potentially be a game changer for global affairs. At that moment, I realized how interconnected everything really was. Disastrously interconnected.
The world is not like it used to be. The digital age has proliferated an era of instantaneous repercussions to global events. From the way news is reported to the way geopolitical events, like the ‘Brexit’, ripple across financial markets; to the way trends and ideas bubble up and spill across boarders. Even across seas.
The next day, Donald Trump was in Scotland promoting a golf club. Trump promptly demonstrated his solidarity with the the Leave campaign, Tweeting, “Just arrived in Scotland. Place is going wild over the vote. They took their country back, just like we will take American back. No games!”
Despite the erroneous nature of his Tweet – The majority in Scotland voted to stay – Trump’s support for the Leave campaign and the ideology that accompanies it, is terribly upsetting for those of us dreading the now very real possibility of a Trump presidency.
THE POLITICS OF DOOM
Later in the pre-dawn hours Friday morning around 2:30 a.m. CT, I was barraged with another wave of devastating news alerts from CNN. One after the other the bulletins, buzzing manically, sent me deeper and deeper into a bog of anxiety.
“David Cameron announces resignation as Prime Minister following UK vote to leave the EU”, “Prime Minister David Cameron says he will step down by October as UK votes to leave EU”, “FTSE opens down 7% after UK votes to leave EU”.
I remember thinking that David Cameron is a fool for promising the Tories this referendum in the first place.
That vampiric ex-London mayor, Boris Johnson may have doomed us all in his foaming charge down the dark corridors of blind nationalism.
The Leave campaign, in a mad, wild-eyed gallop towards ‘independence’ may have inflicted irreparable damage to global stability. The impossible was now a gruesome reality, and those wretched little CNN news bulletins trickling down my newsfeed in a grisly compendium of doom reduced me to a quivering ball of anxiety.
The brutal and public June 16th assassination of Jo Cox , a prominent Labour Party politician, is an unsettling indication of a remarkably rabid strain of xenophobia and racism caking on the rancid surface.
The fact that the racists in the U.K. are using the outcome of the referendum to justify blind, manic outbursts attests to the racially charged atmosphere associated with the strange nationalist ilk emerging throughout the Western world.
This referendum has galvanized our own racist, xenophobic nationalists here in America, and the Trump campaign will do and say whatever it takes to consolidate the feelings of triumph rippling across the Atlantic. Trump has never come closer to hijacking the republic as he his now, and that foreboding thought struck me down that night at the Levee in Kansas City.
All my confidence in the stability and strength of the current political and economic order has been shattered. That first CNN bulletin flooded my skull with the gloomy sensation that the world is drifting into uncharted waters. Anything is possible now.
What happens next is anyone’s guess, but mark my words, the seas are about to get choppy.