Where the Trump-Brexit comparisons break down

Trump’s broader coalition, meanwhile, is invested in much different objectives than Brexit’s. While the decisive question in the U.K. was whether to leave the EU, in the U.S. it’s whether to reject Hillary Clinton. The British faced a referendum on an institution. We Americans face a referendum on a person. Further, British opposition to the EU is deeply colored by centuries-old patterns of thought and habit that are simply absent in the U.S. — especially among voters who tend to believe life has become too stagnant and safe over the past decade. At the same time, American opposition to Clinton is as potent as it is for reasons foreign to most Leave voters — to say nothing of most of the Continent’s reactionary populists in places like France or the Netherlands.

The hot-button topics on both sides of the Atlantic share cursory similarities, but in reality, are virtually night and day. The scenario of a Mexican or Guatemalan immigrant securing work in a tight American job market — the anchor of Trump’s immigration rhetoric — is flat-out incomparable to the scenario of a Libyan or Syrian Muslim securing a foothold for sharia or jihad in a culturally decrepit Europe — the immigration issue touted by Europe’s reactionaries.