That, in a nutshell, is what happened with the United Kingdom and the European Union in what will be described as one of the worst decisions in the 21st century, sitting somewhere alongside invading Iraq and Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
The 'Brexit,' as it is termed, is the permanent extrication of the United Kingdom from the European Union. There were two sides to the debate: the meager Remain camp, which couldn't articulate anything besides doom and gloom should the UK leave, and the Leave camp, which couldn't articulate anything besides doom and gloom should the UK remain.
Much has been said about this campaign. A lot of what the Leave camp said was outright falsehood sitting somewhere between, well, the reasoning for the invasion of Iraq and the physical appearances of everyone on Keeping Up with the Kardashians. (Little know, or, really, well publicized fact: EU migrants to the UK are a net positive in terms of tax income versus welfare distribution, but the Leave camp didn't mention it.)
And so, in a moment of great fugue in which some people voted Leave because they figured the UK would remain anyway (yes, it happened plenty, as documented by too many articles that aggravate me), the country voted to split from the European Union, 52% to 48%.
Keep in mind that a referendum isn't legally binding. The government will have to enact Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, which details the secession proceedings in far too few words, even though the majority of parliamentarians support remaining. But, moving on.
Leave camp has said that they'd be able to negotiate a deal to remain in the European single market. European ministers have responded by saying that the UK will do no such thing. So, what does this mean?
Higher prices and wage stagnation, along with jobs moving from the UK to mainland Europe, mostly in the finance sector which is a huge economic powerhouse for the country. JPMorgan has already declared 1000 jobs moving to the mainland. It won't be long until others follow suit. The UK was dependent on the single market for the free movement of goods back and forth; now, it will face import tariffs, and not just to Europe, but to other areas of the world where the EU has trade agreements.
For a bit of context, the UK joined the European Community in a referendum in 1975. In the 70s, the UK was the sick man of Europe, suffering from high inflation and wage stagnation. Up until recently, its economy (on paper) was the second strongest in Europe, though given Brexit, that will certainly change.
And then there's the issue of migrants, which was likely the central issue that many took as why they wanted to leave the European Union. Like I stated above, European migrants are a net tax benefit to the UK government. The Leave camp also said that the UK sent 'GBP350 million per week to the EU,' a 'fact' that has been debunked so many times that it ought to be only whispered in sanitariums. In fact, Leave camp leader and brutish turnip Nigel Farage recanted that little bit of factual excrement after the results were in. So why did people vote to leave?
The demographics were split between young and old, educated and less so. Those who grew up as part of the EU wanted it more than those who viewed their youths through glasses so rosy that one might think they're peering through the bloodletting they've inflicted upon the UK.
I concede that the EU needs democratic governmental reforms. I've always said that and I'm a fan of the damn organization, because I know that the good it does, regardless of how little it's reported on, outweighs all the times it's blamed for the maladies of the mundane. And now, the UK will have no chance to actually inspire positive change in the EU, except for demonstrating to other right-wing nationalist movements in other countries how bad an idea it is to leave.
I am, as I once heard while living in the UK, gobsmacked. Speechless. Completely and utterly stunned by not only the negligence on the part of the prime minister in campaigning to remain, but by the people who voted to leave because they felt their 'essential Britishness' was being attacked or degraded. Failed Aflac duck spokesman and Leave campaigner Boris Johnson can now tromp towards the leadership of the country while Turnip Farage gets handed a United Kingdom that may not be united for much longer, given the signals from Scotland and Northern Ireland that they are considering their own referenda to leave.
The Leave campaigners won't get the lofty goals they described to their angry followers. They won't get a 'special arrangement' with the EU. They'll be shown as the petulant children they are, rebelling for the sake of the act. And then, who knows, perhaps those angry followers will turn their anger towards the correct target when that happens.