Michael Barone asks whether the United States will become more or less like continental Europe. Considering how poorly Europe is faring economically (10 percent unemployment; minimal job creation in the past 25 years) and socially (e.g., low reproduction rates; rioting in France) it is hard to imagine how we could elect to move in the European direction. However, as Barone points out, that’s where one of our two political parties wants to take us. Leading Democratic politicians like John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, whose politican consciousness was formed around the idea that, compared to Europe, the U.S. is an unjust society are part of the problem. Another factor is the party’s more pragmatic (but not unrelated) interest in having the federal government absorb high percentages of gross domestic product, retrict labor markets, and control key sectors of the economy such as health care. In short, aging politicians and special interest groups cause Democrats to pursue an agenda that history tells us is most unlikely to work.
The party’s best hope, and probably a realistic one, is that the next generation of leaders (those who know not the “60s”) will be less enamored with Europe, and more inclined to chase voters whose interests are not tied to government expansion.