As we approach the US Independence Day, I thought it could be fun considering which country in Europe that would count as the most “American” – and by the way Denmark seems to be the only country which holds an official popular July 4th celebration (as in: a celebration where the local US Embassy is not the organiser).
US-European relations are notoriously tricky. On the one hand, Americans tend to see Europeans as more cultured and sophisticated while on the other hand deploring their (our) lack of initiative. Europeans see Americans as shallow and materialistic and consequently do everything that is in our power to emulate the US lifestyle with a couple of years’ delay.
OK: Our cars and houses are still smaller, but you get the picture.
But to round up some suspects and criteria: What does it take to be “an American country”?
First, we could be looking for a country which in some way or the other has influenced US culture and social and political institutions in a significant way. Britain (legal system) and France (rationalism, republicanism) would be obvious suspects, but perhaps the Netherlands also merit some attention.
Second, we could look for countries where American social, economic and political influence has been especially profound. The Federal Republic of Germany with its emphasis on federalism and the role played by the Bundesverfassungsgericht would be an obvious candidate here.
Third, we could look for countries which institutional similarities even if there is no evidence of direct US influence. Switzerland with its profoundly federal style of government and limited public sector would be a parallel on this side of the Atlantic. But then again, the Swiss are probably too organised and exclusive for the American taste.
But, just to tease you, I will promise two more posts on the subject with some surprising candidates. Stay tooned.