Today’s European election is not just a matter of deciding who gets to represent my made-up region in Brussels’ toy town parliament. It is a celebration of our common heritage as a people, and our proud record of centuries of killing each other in futile wars and thinking up political schemes that never work.
Some proud Europeans have described their own ideas about what marks us out as Europeans. Here are mine:
1). You work to live, not live to work, and after 30 years of 30 hour-weeks you get to retire for another 27 years. And you get angry when people suggest that this insane system will leave your grandchildren impoverished.
2). You don’t believe in God, because only yokels and idiots do that, but you hold faith in an all-powerful state that will look after you from cradle to grave.
3). Your car is older than your democracy and may well probably outlast it. America may be a young country, but in constitutional terms the United States is ancient by European standards. As Mark Steyn has pointed out, only eight countries in the world have had unbroken democracy for the past century, and five of them speak English.
4). Your kitchen is kitted out in German gadgets, paid for by massive loans from Germany, which your country can’t afford. So the Germans have to lend you more money. This system will last forever.
5). You oppose war, except when some lunatic on your doorstep starts his own 1930s reenactment, in which case the Americans have to be called in to save the day, again.
6). You have openly Neo-Nazi MEPs representing your country in parliament, brandishing thinly-disguised swastika-esque flags and still blaming everything on the few thousand remaining Jews in the country.
7). You oppose gay marriage and support the death penalty, but what you think doesn’t matter because these things are decided by your betters anyway. Popular support for capital punishment is roughly the same in the US as it is in Britain and the Netherlands; in fact Italy is the outlier in being a European country where the public strongly oppose the death penalty. The reason why many states in America have it is because the US is more democratic (and capital punishment is in decline there – five states have recently abolished it – because the public is turning against it). In the US gay marriage has been largely fought over in state referenda, and the pro-lobby has won largely through debate; in Britain and France it is decided by political elites in agreement with each other.
8). You wouldn’t be able to name more than three MEPs, or even your ‘president’, Herman van Rompuy.
9). You appreciate higher culture, which is why your largest-selling newspaper has tits in it and your country’s greatest cultural export is The Weakest Link.
10). And you have lots of ancient, beautiful cities that no one except a banker or politician can afford to live in.
11). Diversity is the very essence of your philosophy, except when it comes to differing opinions. Then it’s ‘culture wars’ and ‘extremism’.
12). Family values are very important to you. In fact, family is so important that you have to be a cousin of the mayor to get a building permit, because corruption levels are through the roof in southeast Europe. Here are Italy and Romania in 69th place, Bulgaria in 77th and Greece in 80th. Still, they’re all models of republican virtue compared to new EU candidate Albania – placed 116th.
13). Anyway, no one in your family under the age of 25 has a job.
14). Your remake of Breaking Bad would have got to about series 3 before Walter succumbed.
15). Not that you would remake it, because all your favourite television shows come from America anyway.