March 21, 2004

The Importance of Europe's Left Wing Parties to Right Wing Americans

Foreign policy becomes national consensus only when the major parties that will form the heart of any parliamentary majority all agree on the proposition. Right now, philoamericanism is not national consensus in any 1st tier EU nation with the exception of the UK. Those parties that are friendly to the US are generally center-right parties while center-left parties are generally more hostile to the US and US interests.

If we are to avoid a divided West, this really should change. Relations with Spain, Germany, Italy and others will all cool every time the national electorate in these places throw the bums out for purely domestic reasons. The problem is how to go about it. The left does not like the US because the center of US politics is far to the right of their own countries, thus even a left-winger in US terms is a bit to the right in the EU. Right wingers are so far to the right as to be unacceptable and thus friction naturally increases.

This makes for problems for US center-right politicians and theoreticians. The solution of US center-left politicians is simple, move the US center to the left and the problem is solved. Since moving the US political center is part of the traditional job description of any politician, this is a pretty conventional task for them. The problem for the center-right politician is different. He doesn't want to move the US center to the left. He'd like to see the center of Spain, Germany, et al move to the right but interfering with the internal political workings of foreign countries (contrary to imperialism fetishists) is not traditionally part of the job description.

Thus we have a conundrum, one that presents two potential solutions in my view. The first is to go imperial and make interfering in the domestic affairs of the EU part of the job description. I believe this would be a horrible mistake but it's a natural temptation so it needs to be guarded against vigilantly.

The second option would be to pay much more attention intellectually to the center-right so that they gain the local equivalents of the William F Buckley with his fusionism, Ronald Reagan with his popular optimism and ability to move the center, and Newt Gingrich with his ability to organize and institutionalize changes. All three figures in the US came and were instrumental in moving the center right both further right (while becoming less nutty at the same time) and in gaining influence.

It is only by the center-right creating intellectual positions and electoral platforms that are to the right of center and appeal to greater than 55% of the electorate that the center-left, out of sheer political necessity, will start adopting elements of what was previously right-wing ideology as their own to make themselves once more competitive. But such things cannot come out of the US government lest national pride and xenophobia undo any good that is created.

This isn't to say that such efforts don't already exist. But I don't think that most people understand them as crucial to creating a durable national consensus of pro-americanism, especially those on the center-left in the US. While center-rightists must accept that the center-left's attempts to move the political center in their direction is a valid tool of foreign policy, leftists have to learn to not cry "imperialism" at the IRI every time it says boo.

Posted by TMLutas at March 21, 2004 09:04 AM