Politics Magazine

America and Britain: In The Same Boat?

Posted on the 24 October 2013 by Thepoliticalidealist @JackDarrant

The United States is a nation which, though in many ways intertwined with the UK, we struggle to understand. Britain is in a unique position of straddling an often yawning chasm between Europe and the US, due to a fascinating history and our distinctive geographical situation. Both nations struggle with conservative (and indeed Conservative) cultural and political leanings, and an addiction to capitalism that is too strong for our own good. Both nations consider themselves to be strong international advocates of freedom and democracy- though they all too often let their records down.

Indeed, such similarities range from the fundamental (we have a language in common! Though I maintain that we are right to use the letter ‘u’ more often) to the more subtle. However, Britain has incorporated elements of social liberalism, powerful government and a somewhat more frugal approach to personal consumption that are all manifestly European. I think it’s a useful combination.

It means that both countries can a lot to learn from each other: this ‘special relationship’ does actually mean something. It’s more than the cynical quote “when America sneezes, Britain catches a cold”. Indeed, I think the US is going to have an acute identity crisis as it is forced to vacate its 20th century position of “Number One Superpower” as Britain had to about 100 years ago.

Over the next few decades, the US will lose the economic, military and even the intellectual dominance that it enjoyed, as the BRICs of this world gain the traction to challenge it. It will incidently coincide with the white American population becoming a minority as a younger, multi-racial nation emerges. The changes will shock some, but they’ll present opportunities to the forward-minded.

Britain’s response to transition to a medium-sized power (and the US will never lose that much power) was simply to ignore it, and then to accept that we don’t have to be top dog. The US may have to reach a similar realisation if we are to focus on promoting our values within the international community.

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