No, Europe and the U.S. are not politically alike

It is quite amusing how the U.S. left see Europeans as the classic example of the woke socialists they aspire to be.

For one thing, Europe’s not woke or socialist at least not by the standards of the American left the same people who consider Sweden a socialist paradise.

To Europe right now the U.S. probably serves as a cautionary tale.

If Joe Biden gets his way with the presidency the country will move further left in a nod to Bernie Sanders as the U.S. adopts some of his policies, with the Burn as far left as it gets.

“Not to be a republican at 20 is proof of want of heart; to be one at 30 is proof of want of head,” the 19th-century French monarchist François Guizot is supposed to have said.

Young Americans want their country to become more “European,” favoring tuition-free education, single-payer health care, and an increased role for the state in the economy.

By contrast, their elders are the ones attracted to Donald Trump’s populist cocktail of immigration restriction and protectionism.

How Europe’s Youth are Different

A third of European Youth voters identify as centrist, a fifth are center left with less than a tenth far left.

Like their parents, they believe the private sector is better at creating jobs than the state, work contracts should become more flexible and that competition is good.

In Europe the under-30s are more likely to view poverty as the result of individual choice compared to their parents.

While they support the welfare state to limit inequality and provide generous public services, they are less in favor of financial redistribution than older generations.

The global financial crisis seems to have weakened their commitment to the welfare state compared to Baby Boomers while seen as offering a bigger safety net to the older population.

Many young Americans share Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s vision of democratic socialism as something that already exists in northern Europe.

“What we have in mind and what my policies most closely resemble,” she told Anderson Cooper earlier this year, “is what we see in the U.K., in Norway, in Finland, in Sweden.”

Survey data show European youth have a more positive view of immigration and the European Union than do than do older generations.

Although like their parents they want national governments and the EU to take additional measures to fight illegal immigration.

In fact big center-left and center-right parties have co-opted the policies of far-right parties’ in the fight against illegal immigration.

As Germany has shown any European party advocating for an open borders or a very liberal immigration policy commits political suicide.

Most of all Europe has an older voting public that makes up the electoral majority and it will take another fifteen years before Millennials and Gen Z’s catch up according to estimates.

On average, voters aged 30 and under now make up only 18.6 percent of an EU member state’s electorate while 40.1 percent of the EU’s population is 50 years or older; by comparison, the median American voter today is a 38-year-old Millennial.

Thus, compared to the U.S. the generation gap is not only a whole lot less stark but also a lot narrower.

The most noticeable difference between the two countries however is their very different political set-ups.

America has a polarizing two party horse-race system compared to Europe’s more co-operative participatory democracy, and the two could not be more different.

The latter often leads to consensus through coalition building as a way to achieve like-minded political goals while Americans fight each other at every turn.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Ann Carriage

Political animal, interested in the story behind the story. A concepts driven individual.