Of course it’s not actually that Americans suddenly have become left-leaning and European. Americans haven’t really changed. What’s changed is their perception of Bush. What Americans want more than anything is success — economic success for themselves and military success for their country. More than any other people, Americans want to be able to feel good about themselves. This was what Bush couldn’t deliver and that’s why Americans turned on him.
Economic growth and military adventures are also the best ways of concealing growing inequalities in a society. Over the last five years, since ordinary Americans were making a few bucks more per week they didn’t notice that the super rich were stuffing their already overstuffed pockets. Since America was seen to stand up for good things in the world, a few dead soldiers was a price worth paying.
As a country addicted to success, the US will be in very dire straights if there ever is a period of prolonged economic recession or military failure. Say five years of serious difficulties. That day average Americans will suddenly realize what’s been happening to themselves and their country and they will demand retribution. It’s not going to be pretty.
Europeans are better off in this respect. We’ve learned to grit our teeth and bear the humiliation of our countries with a shrug of the shoulders. Since our welfare states are taking care of us we are also less dependent on personal economic success. We do failure with style.