Tim Montgomerie, Editor of ConservativeHome.com, on his love and respect for America.
It’s easy to think of reasons to hate America – we’re fed them on a daily basis by our friends at the BBC – but the 4th July is a day to celebrate our transatlantic friends. When we even have Tories idiotically suggesting that we should be as worried about the President of Iran as the President of America it’s time to remember why some of us love America…
There are few other countries that could be trusted with so much power. America is a democratic country committed to the extension of freedom throughout the world. In his second inaugural address George W Bush said that “The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.” Does America always live up to this self-interested ideal? No. It sometimes acts incompetently and sometimes hamfistedly but rarely in a malign way. We are fortunate not to live in a world where China or Russia are the superpowers – using their power for ill. Or a world where Chirac or Schroeder are the commanders-in-chief – appeasing the world’s despots in return for commercial gains.
America plc continues to power the world’s economy. A staggeringly high proportion of the world’s inventions originate in America. It accounts for 40% of global R&D. Eight of the world’s top ten universities are American (22 of the top 30). It remains the ‘can-do’ land of enterprise. It’s growing faster than any major European country and is partly doing so on the back of tax cuts that have incentivised the pursuit of the American Dream. In 1971 America accounted for 30.52% of the world economy. Today, while Europe continues to decline, America accounts for 30.74%. The same ‘can do’ spirit has seen America begin to turn the tide on crime and welfare.
America debates issues that most of the democratic world ignores. Moves towards human cloning and the whole issue of abortion have profound implications for what it means to be human. They are issues that are largely ignored within “sophisticated” Europe but, in a sign of the moral seriousness of our transatlantic friends, these issues are at the heart of America’s public square. Darfur also matters in America. Not enough and the President has done far too little to address this first genocide of the 21st century… but compare the silence of the Europeans to the anguish of the Americans…
There is more real public debate in America. BBC programming is more comprehensive and is better produced than anything in America but it offers a fraction of the diversity of opinion. The blogosphere, Fox News and much of the political establishment have catalogued the biases of the old mainstream media and, contrary to the idea that Americans are more gullible than the Brits, the questioning attitude has produced an American public that doesn’t only question the ethos of its ‘trust-me broadcasters’ but also other institutions like the United Nations that don’t deserve the respect we give them.
The Brits love to look down on American television and most of it is rubbish (a bit like our own TV) but the best is at least as good as British output. From The West Wing to Lost and from 24 to Desperate Housewives (David Cameron’s favourite), some of the most entertaining drama comes from the other side of the Atlantic.
America loves the Britons we neglect. Some Britons have read CS Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles but little else of this great Christian writer’s literary treasury. Within America’s bustling churches, Lewis is revered. As is William Wilbeforce – the hero of the abolitionist movement – and almost forgotten in Britain. Americans love Churchill and, of course, Margaret Thatcher.
And, finally, on a day like this – you don’t have to ask for a glass of water when you take your seat at a restaurant. It’s there for you within seconds.
Tim and his American friend Joe Loconte have written for The Weekly Standard today about Winston Churchill and America’s Declaration of Independence.