Last week, European Parliament member Daniel Hannan promoted his new book, The New Road to Serfdom: A Letter of Warning to America, at the Cato Institute. In what he called “a message from the future,” Hannan gave ample warning of what will happen if we do not change our path toward Euro-socialism, but he also provides a note of hope for the American ideal.
One never knows what to expect from a man who is known for being a viral video celebrity—unless that man is Daniel Hannan. Ruffling feathers in Europe with his public condemnation of British leadership and criticism of the overtly unrepresentative EU bureaucracy on the floor of European Parliament, Hannan has helped give a bold face to the conservative, non-progressive movements of our neighbors across the Atlantic. His consistent stance on anti-Europeanization and free markets and his unwavering admiration of the United States has also made him a popular figure in conservative American circles.
Hannan highlighted the political mores shared by both the United Kingdom and the U.S., acknowledging the tremendous traditions of both countries that have “helped to keep the torch of freedom lit” in the world. A self-proclaimed “Jeffersonian” in his democratic philosophy, he related often to his love of our American system of constitutional rule of law, which he referred to as the “American ideal,” the ideal system of government. Stressing the importance of the U.S. Constitution, he added that the unique American system has worked better than any rival in history.
Hannan offered several points of what he calls “an absurd comparison” between the respective governments of both the U.S. and the EU: the 7,200 words of the U.S. Constitution compared to the EU constitution of 78,000 words, the inherent freedom of the individual of the U.S. versus the solidified power of the European super-state, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” triumphing over the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
The major difference, according to Hannan, is the necessary dispersal of power to individuals and local governments for a more federalist, democratically representative body of diverse states rather than consolidation leading to less pluralism, diversity, and competition and overall a less prosperous model of government. The difference between what Hannan calls “your future” (the current state of Europe) and our own country is that there is a distinct attempt to change the American republic into something that it isn’t.
Hannan warns that if we continue on our journey toward Europeanization, we will become less “American”—i.e., less prosperous and less unique. Hannan points out that the destruction of “Americanism” or the “American ideal” giving way to European social democracy would be devastating not just to the U.S. but to Western civilization.
In one of the more sobering remarks of the evening, Hannan commented about the U.S.’s importance in the world. “A U.S. without freedom,” stated Hannan, “makes the world a quieter, darker place.” That being said, the hope of freedom rests upon the U.S. and its people. Disgusted with the lack of true representative government and the “withering away” of democracy in the EU, Hannan praised the U.S. system of elections, proclaiming, “Elections still matter!” In other words, the people can still affect the outcome.
When asked why he has so much confidence in the people, Hannan replied, “Because all other alternatives put ‘the experts’ in charge.” He pointed out that the U.S. is built upon the tradition of rule of law and the sound authority of the Constitution. The U.S. political philosophy is then established by honoring these principles. He closed with a word of hope, saying, “Honor the vision of your founders … and respect the Constitution.” By doing this, he said, we can in fact “actualize the American ideal.”
Daniel Hannan frequently travels to the U.S. and is no stranger to The Heritage Foundation. He paid his first visit in 2005 as a member of a special guest panel discussing whether the European Union is in the interests of the United States.. He again visited Heritage in 2009 as a featured speaker, encouraging Americans to avoid Europe’s economic mistakes and will participate in a October 14th Heritage event on government dependency in Atlanta.
Aaron Buchhop is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm