When you up sticks and move across entire continents to a totally different country, culture, and set of surroundings, the wrenching changes imposed by this move focus your mind on that which you left behind.
Coming to the United Kingdom, I knew intellectually that the Brits were, and are, largely socialists. I have always observed Americans through the eyes of a foreigner, and as such I have always been both amused and annoyed by America's constant tug-of-war style of electoral politics. It all seems so disorderly, so noisy, so utterly devoid of any real substance. As I've said several times before, America doesn't really have two political parties- it simply has two somewhat distinct wings of the One Party of Big Government. One wing likes war and taxes and welfare for its supporters, and the other wing likes war and deficits and welfare for its supporters. That's about the only difference between the Demoblicans and the Republicrats, the Evil Party and the Stupid Party, the Jackasses and the Heffalumps.
And then you come to Europe, and you gain a whole new appreciation for the rough-and-tumble nature of American politics.
Here's the thing about Europeans: they're (almost) ALL socialists.
They've almost ALL completely given up on ideas that mainstream America still holds dear- ideas like individual responsibility, national sovereignty, free enterprise, a strong military, and human charity.
When you come to Europe, you very quickly realise that almost no one here is arguing over whether or not nationalised health care is a good idea- that debate was settled a long time ago. The idea that you are your brother's keeper is Just What's Done. They've long since given up on the idea that a free and independent nation is precisely that- free, and independent, and therefore fully entitled to maintain its own sovereign borders. They've long since stopped arguing over whether or not certain industries should be subsidised- the (entirely justifiable) outrage that Americans felt over green-industry boondoggles like Solyndra and the millions, if not billions, that the incompetent idiots in the Obarmy administration continue to spend on so-called "clean energy", simply doesn't pop up here.
Sure, people get annoyed about bird-mincing wind farms now and then. But otherwise, there's precious little outrage about the true nature of big-government meddling.
Most importantly of all, when you come to Europe, you don't hear any debate over whether or not you are personally responsible for your own defence. In other words, outside of Switzerland, most of Europe is of the opinion that you have NO right to keep and bear arms, and that it is the business of government to protect you from everyone else.
When you come to Europe, you are staring at a vision of what America could be, thirty or forty years from now.
And as a foreigner, as a friend of America, as a true believer in the God-blessed ideal that was your country, I tell you now that if you continue down the road you are on, your fate will be just as ignominious and just as depressing as Europe's.
The continent has ended up in this place, where individual enterprise is frowned upon, and national sovereignty is laughed at as an outmoded concept, and any questioning of the welfare state is considered offensive in the extreme, because it has swallowed whole the soma that is the drug of socialism.
The poison that is socialism is a simple but extremely potent one. It promises comfort and riches without toil and sacrifice. It promises utopia, and proposes to deliver that utopia through attacking the "evil rich"- by taking from those who have, by force, to give to those in need. It is a philosophy rooted completely in covetousness and envy.
Its genesis was told in the Book of Genesis, with the words, "And ye shall be as gods".
Oh, to be sure, there are voices of dissent in Europe. Nationalism is on the rise throughout the continent- both here in Britain and elsewhere, in France, in Spain, in Italy, and in Greece. And about bloody time too. Here in Blightly, UKIP is making some very impressive progress in getting Great Britain the hell out of the European Union, which is a damned fine step in the right direction.
But unlike the nationalist movements in the US, which argue in favour of returning power back to the States and to the people- where it bloody well belongs- the debates here in Europe are not over the size and scope of government. They are limited largely to whether or not Europe should continue to let in barbarians from forsaken lands to replace the babies that Europeans themselves seem to have lost the will and the ability to create.
As Bill Whittle pointed out not too long ago, Europe has been discovering for the last twenty years that, if you give people everything they need to live (at the expense of the people who actually work, and produce, and get things done), well, they don't seem to want to, umm, live. Or reproduce.
America is not immune to this disease, this form of insanity, that is socialism. This belief that we can have a magical fairyland of riches and wonders founded on envy and covetousness is the single greatest obstacle to the nation's progress. It stops America from holding true to its rightful destiny, as the engine of the world, the place where Man's best and most noble impulses can be most fully realised, the shining beacon of freedom and hope that the rest of us can look to in the growing darkness.
America was and remains the last, best, and only hope of Mankind for a better future. There is nowhere else to turn. This blessed land, this place of wonders and riches, this... America...
It's all we have.
And now you may have some understanding of how I feel when I watch helplessly as Americans throw away that future so wantonly, so single-mindedly, in pursuit of the same soma-induced dreams that the Europeans have pursued for the last seventy years.
The Europeans have been able to get away with it because, during that entire time, America paid for most of their defence budget. The Europeans didn't have to learn how to defend themselves because American blood and treasure defended their borders from Soviet aggression. That is still the case today- American military might, sustained by an economy that, for all of its failures, is still more free and more dynamic and more sustainable than the over-regulated and sclerotic regimes of Europe, is still the bulwark upon which Europe's freedoms rest.
To those Americans whose senses have not yet been dulled by the pleasing hallucinations of the soma of socialism, and all of the evils that it brings, I plead with you to recognise what it is that you have, and what you could lose, far too easily.
Only in America is there still a real desire for free markets and free people. Only there is the understanding of the rights of the common man still intact. Only in that country is government power still regarded with suspicion and distaste.
And because of these things, only from America will we see a resurgence in small-government ideals. Only America can once again make us believe that individual free men are masters of their own destinies, and to hell with any government that says otherwise.
Daniel Hannan, a naturalised British citizen and a Member of the European Parliament whose ardent love of your country is perhaps even greater than my own, put it beautifully in several speeches over the last few years. He told the story of the philoxera blight, which destroyed the vineyards of continental Europe quite thoroughly in the late 19th Century. In order to revitalise their wine industry, the wine-growers of the continent travelled to America, where cuttings of the ancestral vines had been taken to fertile soil in California, to grow and flourish.
It was from there that the viticulture industry was revived- just as the idea of constrained, small government and expansive, powerful citizenry can be revived today.
But imagine, if you can, what those wine-growers who visited California back in those heady days of promise and fortune would have felt, if they had seen that the very plague that had destroyed their own wealth and wiped out their own futures, had been present on the very vines that came from the ancestral farms.
That is the despair I feel when I see what is happening to America. It is the despair of a man who sees the last and only hope of Mankind rushing headlong down the road to perdition- the road that the Europeans, and the Britons, have already taken. It is the road that leads to economic ruin and the complete loss of individual autonomy. It is the road to dishonour and disgrace. It is the road to insanity.
There was a time when I used to read stories of immigrants- real immigrants, who really wanted to become Americans, who wanted nothing more than to be free and to work hard to earn the opportunities that they were given- falling to their knees and kissing the ground when they reached American soil. At the time I used to think that these stories were pretty corny, the kinds of silly and fanciful tales that you tell your children when you're trying to convince them to eat their vegetables.
Now that I've left, even if only for a short time, I understand completely why early immigrants to America felt that way. It is because they saw what it took me years to understand and realise.
They saw not just what America was, but what it could become. And they fell to their knees and thanked God for giving them the chance to be a part of that future.
Don't ever take that future for granted- for I promise you that if you do, you will lose something beyond price.