One of the pleasures of traveling overseas is getting a brief glimpse of your homeland from afar. When I lived in the UK during much of the nineties, I used to compare it to looking at that famous photo of Earthrise taken by astronaut William Anders during the Apollo 8 mission, the first manned orbit around the moon. Suddenly, at a distance, the place you live looks very different and you get a new perspective on it.
The effect is not quite so dramatic when you only visit for a week, but during my recent vacation in the UK, I couldn’t help but notice that politically our two nations seem to have switched places. From similar experiences of governance, we have drawn entirely different lessons.
It used to be the two parties in the U.S. squabbled ferociously but agreed on the basics: patriotism, capitalism, liberty. In England, conversely, the left was full-blown Communistic and the Labour party would actually start its meetings with a rousing chorus of the Old Red Flag, whereas the Tories could only blither uselessly about “preserving our way of life.”
Now we’re the divided ones. The Democrats are in full America-hating, income-seizing, idea-suppressing mode and the Republicans, such as they are, are fighting a rearguard action over the body of our tattered Constitution. In England, meanwhile, years of Thatcherism and then Blairism have convinced a majority of the electorate that, when it comes to the economy at any rate, capitalism and free markets are the answer. London seems to be booming, full of young foreigners and natives sporting goods and delivering services. Labour has become such a collection of ostracized crackpots that they’ve elected commie terrorist-sympathizer Jeremy Corbyn to lead them, one hopes, into complete powerlessness and obscurity.
How did we, after the good economic years of Reagan and Clinton, wind up with this lawless leftist clown of ours in the White House? How did the greatest economic engine of all time start to sport an economy as drab as post-war England’s? How did we lose the plot of freedom? Let’s hope it was just a joke of historical circumstance and we all come to our senses soon.
Though with Trump still in the race, my hopes are not high.