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Brexit, Trump, Gun Control & George Bush: 5 Things To Do When Your Country Embarrasses You

With an election that shocked the world, England, and I specifically mean England – not Britain or the UK – voted to leave the European Union. And with that vote, many of my friends in the UK felt a feeling that has been all too familiar to me and many other Americans over the past few decades: embarrassment. It’s an embarrassment that comes from your fellow countrymen doing something so stupid you cannot even wrap your head around it. As a progressive/liberal American I first felt this when George Bush II was “elected” for the first time in 2000, and felt it even stronger when we did it again four years later. I’ve felt it time and again as my country sits around as the only developed nation with a gun problem and claims nothing can be done about it, and I’m feeling it constantly this year as an alarmingly large portion of my country toys with the idea of electing a fascist.  So as someone who has experienced more than my fair share of embarrassment at the hands of democracy, I thought I’d share a few tips on what a person can do to deal with it:

  1. downloadStay in bed and pretend it didn’t happen. This nearly worked for me during the 2000 election. The night of the vote, I stayed up until 3 am when the news media first called it for Bush and said he would be appearing on TV soon to give a victory speech. I was so disgusted, I turned off the TV, got in bed and even skipped my morning class the next day to continue hiding under the covers. It wasn’t until the early afternoon when my roommate returned home that I found out about all the turmoil surrounding the vote in Florida. (It would be more than a month before the “votes” down there were finalized by a partisan and sketchy as hell Supreme Court decision.)
  2. Point Fingers & Call People Out: Find out who specifically is to blame for the result. Obviously I’m talking about a deeper analysis than just saying, “It was the people who voted for Brexit.” I’m talking about a demographic breakdown of what portion of the population should be on the receiving end of your ire. In the case of my UK friends, the answer is clear: Old English people.
  3. Quickly and Continuously Post Your Disagreement with the Results on Social Media: This is very important and face saving. You must immediately let people around the world know that you had nothing to do with the insanity your country just participated in. This is needed to separate yourself from the tyranny of the majority and to remind the world that not everyone in your country has lost their damn minds.
  4. Find Like-Minded People to Hangout With: Once you realize that there is something seriously wrong with large numbers of the people in your society, getting away from them becomes extremely important. This needs to be done so that you can safely air your grievances against the people who have just wronged you and made your country a laughing stalk, and for your own physical safety. No seriously. When it comes to something like gun control in America, a lot of the people against it are die-hard believers in the right to carry a gun to the point that they often own guns. Having a gun, of course, increases the chances that someone in that household will be killed by a gun. So yeah, getting away from gun owners is important. You’ll often find the quality of conversation goes up when you get away from these people as things like facts and logic can once again be freely used in discussions.
  5. Threaten to Leave the Country: Nothing shows how upset and in how much disagreement you are in with your country’s actions than to pick up and leave. And let me go on the record here and now and say that if my country elects Trump, I will be gone before he is sworn in. This is not an empty threat. To say I’ve been looking for an excuse to leave my home country and return to my expat roots would not be an understatement and Trump would be all the justification I needed to pull up stakes and head for the border.


Brian M. Williams
Brian is the author of the recently published travel memoir "Stranger in a Stranger Land: My Six Years in Korea." (Click this profile for more information.) He's also a law school grad with Southern charm and Virginia roots. He recently returned to America after nearly seven years traveling and working abroad. He loves dive bars, international travel and foreign accents. He's particularly good at small talk and was the first person to notice there's no "I" in "team."

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