Amongst many things in the politics of late that have caused me some serious grief is that of Conservatives posing liberal policy as European values. Upon a thoughtful reconciliation of American innovation in governance as well as European government has for me, produced a much different perspective.
It would seem to me that in order to have a reasonable perspective in the matter, you would have to reconcile the history of the government of the United States as well as the combined history of government for the member nations of the European Union. Having done so, here is what I came to in conclusion:
The United States:
The United States began not from any form of institution, but from the penning of it's Constitution. There were no monarchies ordained of a higher power granting the people certain "rights," but the people establishing themselves as the ordaining power. The Constitution of the United States of America derives it's power from the the people, and separates these powers into three branches of government. It is also important to note that before and held above these separation of powers, the Constitution establishes the absolute freedom and protection of it's citizens at home and abroad, and identifies that the purpose of the government to be for the general welfare of the public, which includes citizens and non-citizens alike. The three branches of government exist solely for the representation of the people and collectively to balance the powers held by all three. From there, the states are given the remaining power to govern themselves solely to support the advantage of the people in collective representation.
The intent of the founding fathers of this nation and the prevailing "attitude" of the United States until recent has been a total eschewing of establishment or dynasty. As a matter of fact, the purpose of the founding fathers was to establish the government as the only establishment, the only enterprise to prevail and persist. The intent of the Declaration of Independence and the later Constitution of the United States was to throw out the institutions of Europe, to throw out the dynasties of monarchy and wealth or status, and to create an everlasting and persisting institution of the people (the government), to pass on to each subsequent generation the responsibility to maintain this institution and allow it to change with the ebb and flow of time. Such astounding proclamations of liberty have fueled change not only in our nation but all over the world, as we have time and time again, persisted in defining equality.
Our establishment of public welfare causes like free elementary education, inviting the poor and hungry of disparate nations to come to us and together build a better place, and supporting the fallen of our own by building them back up again after loss of job or other devastation, has been what many consider our greatest national asset. It is this altruism that fueled American innovation. The spirit of the American people, a culture cultivated by hundreds of years of collective good will, tolerance, and respect, was in fact the resounding factor in the victory of two world wars. It was because of this very culture that saw the triumph of good over evil that the many nations with whom we fought changed their own ways. At the end of the second World War, the peoples of Europe sought to model their societies on America, inspired by the resolve of our nation to create and maintain peace and prosperity.
The collective nation-states of the European Union (including the United Kingdom):
While it is important to recognize that the history of the member states far exceed that of the European Union, it is more important to recognize that the EU is and will likely forever be the reflection and adaptation to an American Constitutional representative government.
The member-states of the EU have all roots in early civilization, some that began from the Roman representative government, most starting with kings and queens ordained of their respective higher powers. Skipping forward a few millenia to the time of colonization in the new world, they were all governments of monarchies. Despotic leaders ruled the land and, when challenged, would ready armies of men even for petty motivations. The governments of these nations were, and still somewhat are, rife with institution and dynasties of wealth and status. One could not transcend their class in wealth or position other than downward. There was no form of public welfare, the sick were left to die, the hungry left to starve, and the weak to fend for themselves.
Leading up to the two world wars, America was scoffed at by these nations, seen as a lesser people, unguided by a higher power. America was seen as the nation with no history, no establishment, and certainly no position, even when America became the most wealthy nation.
After the two world wars, it became common sense that the positions of old would no longer do. Those nations (such as France) who had previously thrown out their crowned leaders were already on their way in developing public welfare so as to make better the standard of living for all. Those nations with monarchies either threw out the rule of a monarchy and wrote new constitutions, or demanded self determination from their kings and queens.
Tea partiers and Conservatives alike would have you believe that liberals are the ones progressing toward a European way of life, when in fact it is they who seek such status.
One of the most important tenets in American politics is that liberal policy is good for the nation, and protections should never be taken from a single American, yet today many in the Conservative spectrum seek to introduce Constitutional Amendments restricting those who they oppose, to alter the 14th Amendment in order to support their judicial purposes (or maybe more accurately, prejudices). They create government bailouts to save banks, manufacturers, or others companies because they cannot fathom a United States without General Motors or Bank of America...two institutions that somehow characterize stability for the American public, though both have nearly gone bankrupt numerous times.
Conservatives would also have you believe that the super rich are wealthy because they worked for it, rather than simply acknowledging that a wealth of that mass undeniably was the result of shortchanging the hard work done by many thousands of people who worked under that person in a corporation. They create arguments supporting class discrimination, yet complain that the middle class is under attack. They would also have you believe that by giving the richest people in the nation tax breaks, we on the bottom will somehow stand a chance of getting some of that money...though these are the same people who are billionaires because they failed to share the wealth of their burgeoning enterprises with those who made it possible.
Ever since this nation has started warming up to Europe and it's views, money and status have become a form of celebrity to our people. To forget that our nation is about collective good is in vogue. People now idolize those who would change our Constitution to suit their own needs.
I'm not at all like that. I am a patriotic American who sees my fellow citizens as brothers. I want to see every person in the nation given the opportunity to lift themselves up and make right all the wrongs in their life.
So I say to my Liberal friends, don't let the Conservatives get away with calling our efforts socialist/marxist/etc. Challenge the very thought! There's nothing more American than providing for the common welfare and there's no amount of history rewrites that will prove otherwise! In every way, the creation of public welfare systems in Europe like universal healthcare and free post-secondary education, were in fact the purest form of flattery to the American way of life, and if someone suggests to you that being a little more like modern Europe is in any way insulting, hit them back hard and make damn sure they know just who's being more European.
It sounds to me that America is becoming pre-democratic Europe and Europe is the new America. I do hope that this doesn't continue to happen!