In the most recent Ricochet podcast, I was struck by how much of Monica Crowley's ire was directed at becoming like Western Europe. It was a solid five-minute block on how all the bad things that resulted from the election and the inauguration speech will lead us to the hell that is Western Europe.
Daily life in western Europe doesn't really seem so bad. Right now, I live in a small village in Germany with lots of nice houses, no crime, and seemingly random festivals which all involve great beer and food. Nothing but cafes are open on Sunday, so people spend the day with their families out hiking or sledding or having coffee. And it's utterly common to see beautifully maintained roadside or mountaintop shrines, and not a peep from whatever the German equivalent of the ACLU is.
It's substantially the same in most of the villages I've gone through, and in the big cities things really aren't that bad either. People actually leave their bikes unchained when they go into stores or restaurants. There might be some bad areas of Munich and Frankfurt and Berlin, but there's nothing like South Central LA or Chicago south of Hyde Park. There's a strong civic culture that, yes, gets channelled into annoying recycling, but is ultimately pretty nice. Everyone takes the initiative when it comes to keeping their sidewalk clean, and, despite the weather, most of the cars on the road are very well-maintained and shiny. And we get to drive "as fast as conditions permit" on most of das Autobahn.
OK, OK, I'll grant you unemployment in Spain, or unrest in Greece, and taxes sure are high. Gas is probably $2/gallon more than I'd be paying in Chicago (plus that dang exchange rate). The pop culture is pretty crappy (but then, most of that still comes from Hollywood). I heard a lot of horror stories about demographic demise and debts spiraling out of control before I moved over here, but Germany and France and most of the smaller countries around here are extremely pleasant to visit and to live in. Even former Eastern Bloc countries like Slovenia, Poland, and the Czech Republic are pretty darn nice. When I heard Mollie Hemingway later on the podcast I thought--yes, focus on your local institutions, which is exactly what Western Europe does well.
So maybe we need a better bogeyman. Personally, I'd be more upset if the US turned into Central America than Western Europe.