‘Becoming Europe’ or Coming Full Circle?
Religion & Liberty Online

‘Becoming Europe’ or Coming Full Circle?

America, for the obvious reasons, holds strong ties to Europe. But it is a country that has primarily been associated with a distinctness and separation from the turmoil and practices of the continent. In his farewell address, George Washington famously warned Americans about remaining separate from European influence and declared, “History and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.” Class strife, conflict, and instability already long characterized the European fabric at the time of the American Revolution. Likewise, many American colonists already thought of themselves as free and distinct before the revolt. At the time of the revolution, some 400 wealthy noble families controlled Great Britain. America had an aristocracy for sure, but it was much more merit based than Europe. It embodied a more egalitarian spirit, local communities were culturally connected and would have been suspicious of attempts at centralization. So obviously countless problems ignited and there was a fanning of flames when the Crown started making decrees and commands of the American colonists.

I have a copy of Sam Gregg’s Becoming Europe, which is next on my reading list. The recent calls for gun control and the curtailing of 2nd Amendment Rights out of Washington immediately reminded me more of the American – European divide. I’d point you to Gregg’s work for the formative economic study on our evolution towards European democratic socialism, but I want to make a few short observations on the topic, which might be beneficial to expand on after I read Becoming Europe.

Quite possibly, the “Becoming Europe” alarm is about to blow up in popularity, not just because it’s a real threat, but because it’s such a clear and tangible example people can point towards. Rick Santelli declared yesterday, “When you act like Europe, you get growth rates like Europe.”

In June of 2011, Sarah Palin was raked over the coals for pointing out that the British came after the guns of American colonists. While her statement was awkwardly worded, it was not inaccurate. Much of the media and 24 hour news talking heads called it revisionist history and a lie. But anybody who has studied the period knows the British went after munitions and powder stores at Concord in 1775 and made other attempts to disarm the populace.

It is fairly clear that our president favors a European model when it comes to economic policies and government intervention. The background of his life, while some seem to think is controversial, is clearly a different set of experiences when compared to previous presidents.

In some ways though it seems in “Becoming Europe” we are actually coming full circle as a nation, to a time where we are at least symbolically settlers, like our forefathers, more connected to Europe than America. We are losing a special sense of our American roots and founding. Even the political and cultural divides and conflicts in this country are so wide now, the sense of American cohesion or exceptionalism has largely withered away. We don’t possess a unified sense of purpose, values, or goals. We here constant barrages about what characterizes a “Red State” or “Blue State” but not a unified American purpose. President Obama, to his credit, tried to heal this divide in his 2004 Democratic Keynote Convention Speech, but his presidency, and certainly his last presidential campaign, has essentially failed in any attempt to unify the country.

I really think one of the best ways we may be able to recapture a sense of America is looking back at our founding. They were very leery of centralized power because they already had a sense of the havoc it wreaked on the European continent. The further we get from our American history we devolve into the time before the birth of our Republic – a time in the world before America existed. And that’s a dangerous place to be when it comes to preserving liberty and the natural rights of man.

Ray Nothstine

Ray Nothstine is editor at the Civitas Institute in Raleigh, North Carolina. Previously, he was managing editor of Acton Institute's Religion & Liberty quarterly. In 2005 Ray graduated with a Master of Divinity (M.Div) degree from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky. He also holds a B.A. in Political Science from The University of Mississippi in Oxford.