The Big Picture

People are in pain. They are expressing this by voting for Trump or Brexit. They believe that the problem lies with the establishment, which is represented by the European Institutions or by American old faces in politics; make no mistake, the people do not know anything about European Institutions: it is just easy to take them as a target. The proof is that when British Judges stand in their way, the people want to take them down. By doing these things, they create more pain for those who fear populism. We live in a world of pain and uncertainty.

In moments such as this, despair is justified. How do we assuage the pain on one side or the other? How do we reintroduce a measure of certainty in the quicksand of world politics? The first step is to understand the source of pain. To a great extent, people’s pain comes from uncertainty: are they going to have a job at the end of this year? Are they going to be able to pay their debts? Are they going to afford food for their families? This factual uncertainty is the source of great daily pain. And politics as they know it has not provided a single answer to those factual questions. The people’s solution is to change the game: American voters are fed up with the usual suspects in Washington, and they see in Trump a new face in politics. British voters are fed up with faceless bureaucrats in Brussels, and they want to bring politics back to Westminster, although it is not clear whether they trust British institutions either.

I am trying to feel people’s pain. I must admit that I can see reasons to take that pain seriously. There are grains of truth in their disappointment. For example, the EU cannot afford to remain the same after Brexit. This is not a battle between the EU and the UK; this is a battle for survival of the European project on one hand, and of the UK project on the other. Finally, we have a constitutional moment of epic proportions ...

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