Today’s word of the day, courtesy of www.dictionary.com, is sagacious, an adjective meaning “having or showing acute mental discernment and keen practical sense; shrewd.” The IPA transcription looks like this: / səˈgeɪ ʃəs /, with the stress on the second syllable. According to www.etymonline.com, the word enters the English language “c. 1600, from Latin sagacem (nominative sagax) ‘of quick perception;’ see sagacity.” If youactually go to sagacity, you’ll find “c. 1500, from Middle French sagacité, from Latin sagacitatem (nominative sagacitas) ‘keenness of perception, quality of being acute,’ from sagax (genitive sagacis) ‘of quick perception, acute,’ related to sagus ‘prophetic,’ sagire ‘perceive keenly,’ from PIE root *sag- ‘to track down, trace, seek’ (source also of Old English secan ‘to seek.’”
Today is Brexit Day. If you don’t know, Brexit is a portmanteau word, “a linguistic blend of words, in which parts of multiple words or their phonemes are combined into a new word, as in smog, coined by blending smoke and fog, or motel, from motor and hotel.” In this case, the word is made up of British and exit. What is it that Britain is exiting from? The European Union, or EU.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica’s website, the European Union (EU) is an “international organization comprising 28 European countries and governing common economic, social, and security policies. Originally confined to western Europe, the EU undertook a robust expansion into central and eastern Europe in the early 21st century…. The EU was created by the Maastricht Treaty, which entered into force on November 1, 1993. The treaty was designed to enhance European political and economic integration by creating a single currency (the euro), a unified foreign and security policy, and common citizenship rights and by advancing cooperation in the areas of immigration, asylum, and judicial affairs.”
The EU has created its own parliament, to which members are directly elected by the populations of their countries rather than being appointed by the country’s legislature. It also has its own court of justice, and it writes laws. According to the Britannica article, the ECJ “has established two important legal doctrines. First, European law has “direct effect,” which means that treaty provisions and legislation are directly binding on individual citizens, regardless of whether their governments have modified national laws accordingly. Second, community law has “supremacy” over national law in cases where the two conflict. The promulgation of the Lisbon Treaty signaled the acceptance of these legal doctrines by national courts, and the ECJ has acquired a supranational legal authority.”
A lot of British people have complained, since 1993, that the EU overrides the sovereignty of their nation, and since the EU has its own politicians (who are, BTW, exempt from national income taxes) and its own bureaucracy, those people are right.
In 2016, as complaints about the EU were increasing, David Cameron, Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party, decided to give the British people an opportunity to blow off some steam by having a national referendum on whether the leave the EU or remain a part of it. A big campaign followed, with most of the elites of British society ridiculing the very idea of leaving the EU. The Remainers were enormously confident that the proposal would fail miserably. The referendum was actually quite simple: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” The answers were equally simple: “Remain a member of the European Union,” or “Leave the European Union.”
Against all odds, the Brexiteers won. Here’s what the wiki says, “The final result was announced on Friday 24 June 2016 at 07:20 BST by then-Electoral Commission Chairwoman Jenny Watson at Manchester Town Hall after all 382 voting areas and the twelve UK regions had declared their totals. With a national turnout of 72% across the United Kingdom and Gibraltar (representing 33,577,342 people), at least 16,788,672 votes were required to win a majority. The electorate voted to ‘Leave the European Union,’ with a majority of 1,269,501 votes (3.8%) over those who voted ‘Remain a member of the European Union.’ The national turnout of 72% was the highest ever for a UK-wide referendum, and the highest for any national vote since the 1992 general election. With the national turnout of 72% being the highest for a UK-wide referendum, this roughly calculates to 38% of the entire UK population wanting to leave the European Union and roughly 35% wanting to remain in the European Union.”
People were stunned, and many of the Remainers who had political positions have done their best in the intervening three and a half years to keep Brexit from happening. Prime Minister May, who took over for David Cameron after Cameron resigned because of the results of the referendum, eventually resigned as PM as well. Boris Johnson became the new PM last year, and when he had trouble getting Parliament to move on Brexit, he called for new elections, which led to a large majority for the Conservative Party, and now, finally, the implementation of Brexit.
Personally, I am a fan of localism, the idea that small communities serve their constituents better than large, distant national governments. I think many of the countries of the world are just too large, like the United States with its 330,000,000 people. So I am a fan of Brexit. Of course, the people of Scotland, who are a part of the UK, by a majority wanted to remain members of the EU, so now they want to split off from the UK. I am in favor of that as well. I also support Catalonia in its desire to escape from the control of Madrid.
You see, I think the people are much better at making decisions about their own lives than government bureaucrats in faraway places. In my own country, the United States, there are people making decisions about the lives of others when the decision makers have never even been where those other people live. All the federal agencies have their headquarters in Washington, DC, where the bureaucrats see each other a lot more than they see the lives who are affected by their decisions and policies. And that’s wrong. It leads to one-size-fits-all thinking.
I encourage you to celebrate Brexit Day (it becomes an official kind of thing at 6 pm EST). Celebrate the fact that, when it comes to their own lives, most people are far more sagacious than people who live far away.
The image is a photo taken last January in Westminster, London, England.