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In the previous issue of the Pilot, we heard from my esteemed colleague Oliver Simpson, who presented a European perspective on this year’s bunch of GOP presidential candidates. But how, you may be asking yourselves, do American conservatives view Europe?
The short answer: None too favorably, though there is still some (faint) hope.
The long answer: Europe is seen by American conservatives (as well as some British conservatives, most notably Daniel Hannan, an English member of the European Parliament) as a harbinger. Europe, with its fiscal nightmare driven by a half-century of extravagant welfare-state spending, is representative of the road we were put on by Wilson, FDR, and LBJ, and the road from which President Obama refuses to deviate.
As Mr. Hannan phrased it in his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C. in February, “I am living in your future, or at least the future towards which your present leaders seem intent on taking you. And believe me, my friends, you are not going to enjoy it.” Judging by the state of things across the pond, from issues such as rioting in Greece over the austerity measures, to the constant bailouts of Greece by the rest of the Eurozone that lead to – you guessed it – more bailouts, and what some see as the coming implosion of the Euro, it doesn’t look all that fun from where we’re standing.
A portion of this comes from the American Right’s healthy skepticism of intergovernmental organizations like the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN). While the UN issue isn’t as relevant to this case, the EU’s example is very illustrative. In its desperate attempts to halt the financial implosion, it has taken some drastic measures. The decisions have resulted in a concentration of power in Brussels (home to the European Parliament) at the expense of the supposedly sovereign member-states.
Among the most nefarious of these centralization efforts are the replacements of two democratically-elected heads of government, George Papandreou of Greece and Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, by unelected Eurocrats sent in from Brussels. Did the EU remove them directly? No, but the immense political pressure coming from Brussels (and Berlin) left them no other choice. To an American conservative like me who takes sovereignty and democracy very, very seriously, the removal of a democratically-elected Prime Minister (even one with Berlusconi’s colorful nature) is despicable.
Opposition to the EU hasn’t been solely a province of Americans looking over at Europe, either. The European Union’s Constitution itself is a useful example. Again from Mr. Hannan’s CPAC speech, “[The European Constitution] was rejected repeatedly in referendums by 53 percent of Irish people, by 62 percent of Dutch people, by 54 percent of French people, and then it was imposed anyway.” To any objective observer, this has all the trappings of a regime with little regard for democracy or the will of the people. Is that worth bashing? Yes, I heartily believe so.
Is there still hope? Is America doomed to a European-style collapse? The answer hinges on this fall’s presidential election. If Barack Obama is re-elected, then the answer is, “Most likely.” The welfare state will continue to grow, the debt will continue to skyrocket, unemployment will remain high as the administration kills jobs to sate the bloodthirst of his environmental base, the abomination that is Obamacare will become a fact of life.
That does not mean that the election of whichever Republican emerges from the scrum that is the primary season will be a panacea. There is still much work to be done. The debt alone is reaching an insurmountable level. If our massive entitlement programs (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) aren’t reformed quickly, they will eat up the federal government’s entire income by 2049. That doesn’t even account for the 70-odd other entitlement programs the government currently runs, much less other important things like, say, our national defense.
But take heart: We probably won’t get that far. As Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) recently informed the perennially clueless, tax-evading Secretary of the Treasury, Tim Geithner, the whole system will shut down in 2027 due to the financial strain that Obamanomics is putting on the American economy.
But back to the Europe issue. Are American conservatives skeptical of Europe? Are we desperate to turn our country around before we go down that same road to ruin? Yes, and for darned good reason. We have seen the future, and we don’t like it.