America Is Old; Europe Is New
Comments to that effect once left on this blog come to mind reading the welcome news of William Galston's suggestion that "it is difficult to see much narrowing in the historic gap between the public cultures of America and Europe" — No, We Are Not All Europeans Now. Mr. Galston writes:
- Though Americans believe fervently in equality of opportunity, we reject equality of results and are less open to policies designed to reduce inequality than are most Europeans. Americans believe that government should respond generously to emergencies and hardship but should not extend broader income guarantees.
We do have a communitarian streak, which expresses itself in myriad private associations, but on the whole, we remain much more individualistic in our outlook than is the norm in Europe. And, of course, the typical American is less well disposed to the state and its institutions than is the typical European. Any proposed expansion of state power must satisfy a heavy burden of proof, and policies that easily meet this challenge in Europe face much greater difficulties, at least on the plane of rhetoric, in the United States.