Now that orientation is over I’ve had some time to reflect on how college is a time for self discovery and soul searching. However, what is often overlooked is that the aforementioned period of self discovery is often awkward, difficult and painful. Rarely is the transition to adulthood a smooth one. This notion brought me to think — as much of a non sequitur as it may seem — about the status quo of the United States.
A mere 234-years old, America is just entering adulthood, despite having run the playground from toddler age. Other countries have been strutting around the jungle gym for a lot longer. England, for instance, has been a unified state since A.D. 972, giving it self plenty of time for soul searching. Consequently, America has a much weaker grasp on what it is in comparison to many European countries. This uncertain identity is especially exemplified by some of the major political issues facing American society and by the differences between the political parties in Europe and in America.
This past March, the U.S. Senate passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, ensuring all citizens universal, socialized health care. While the bill had, and continues to maintain, both firm opponents and advocates who debate the constitutional legality of the bill, I find that the implications that this bill, and the controversy surrounding it are rather telling regarding the character of American society. Regardless of whether one believes that socialized medical care is good or bad, the values behind this system are fundamentally opposed to the values of America’s founding principle of capitalism. But after all, President Barack Obama did run his campaign under the banner of change, and socialized health care is precisely that.
I believe this shows that America is in a stage in which it questions the core values of its society. Liberals fight for government protection of the common man, and conservatives fight for preservation of individual freedoms, without any guarantees of government care. Meanwhile, moderates are stuck in the middle ground, trying to make ends meet. With respect to the parties of many European countries, the American political parties are perhaps the most ideologically different. In America, being a far-left individual can mean being a socialist, whereas being a far-right individual can mean being an anarchist. On the other hand, England, for instance, is rather politically uniform. The current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, a member of Britain’s Conservative Party, is a proponent of tax hikes and budget increases. Here in the States, Prime Minister David Cameron would more likely be considered a moderate democrat. It is true that Europe is generally more liberal than the United States, however, that generalization is indicative of the cohesiveness of many European countries.
In the end, we as college students will figure out who we want to be, as America is struggling o do now. Some college students rebel against their parents, while others embrace their heritage. Some come to school knowing their major, while others struggle until it is nearly too late. It is my hope that Americans will come to embrace our laissez-faire roots, but only time will tell. In the meantime, I would urge all Americans to discuss the issues and concerns that sometimes go unspoken, for only confrontation of our concerns will abate them. Putting off studying for a test doesn’t put off taking the test. Is the Constitution a good thing? What is the role of government? Which is better, socialist or capitalist ideology? Unasked questions go unanswered.