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Brexit, Baltimore & Backlash

Brexit, Baltimore and Elites vs. Populism Crisis

The people of Britain have voted to take back their country. They've decided that their ancestors did not fight and die in many tragic wars to cede the rights and traditions of their nation to the European Commission, an entity that isn't directly accountable to the British people or anyone else. A vote for Brexit is said to be both a vote for the sense of country and a vote against elite institutions like the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank.

The same day that the British asserted their own independence, Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby met her own Waterloo. Mosby is the prosecutor who in May 2015 brought charges against six Baltimore police officers days after arson and looting rocked the city of Baltimore. The officers, charged with crimes associated with the death of Freddy Gray, have now suffered through three trials. Three trials - three acquittals - three policemen with careers ruined.

Brexit and Baltimore exemplify backlash in its most classic form: "A strong and adverse reaction by a large number of people, especially to a social or political development."

In the case of Brexit millions of Britishers voted for break-up - rejecting their country's slide from sovereignty to control by Brussels Eurocrats.

Baltimore is in a different kind of backlash. As the President of the Baltimore Police Union, Lt. Gene Ray, put it - the State's Attorney should "reconsider her malicious prosecution" against the other rank-and-file officers in the case. Lt. Ray went on to say that the prosecution imperils the ability of police officers to do their jobs - adding that officers are concerned about being prosecuted if they put handcuffs on someone who isn't ultimately charged.

Backlash, whether that of Brexit or Baltimore, is fueled by grievance. The tides of anti-establishment anger, resentment of elites and populism are growing. There is a desire to return to an earlier time - when country meant a sense of place and honor and respect for the police was a badge of patriotism and commitment to community. The simple truth is that while different groups' anger can manifest in different ways, no community in our country is getting a fair shake - unless you're part of super-wealthy one percent.

We are undeniably in the midst of a fight fueled by deep passions over the role of country and a fight for its heart. Brexit and Baltimore expose cracks in the system. There are more cracks and there will be more unease and protest. This is likely one of those years when democracy will bring more division than union. We will see where the fault lines of 2016 lie.

Brexit, Baltimore & Backlash from Hackard Law on Vimeo.

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