Invasion of the America Snatchers

Jonah Goldberg

5/18/2005 12:00:00 AM - Jonah Goldberg

Huge chunks of the American population have been body-snatched by zomboid creatures from Canada, or possibly - shudder - Europe. That's the only conclusion one can draw from the latest monumental study from the Pew Center for the People and the Press. OK, it's not the only conclusion you can draw, but it's the one I'm going to draw.

I remember being horrified by when I first saw the remake of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." In the final scene, one of the last remaining normal humans in the city runs up to Donald Sutherland, thinking he's completely normal, too. When she gets close, Sutherland slowly raises his finger to point at her, and begins his alien shriek, sounding like someone had dropped a hungry piranha down the front of his wide-wale corduroys.

Well, if you look very closely and study body language and speech, you may just discover that the liberals screeching at conservatives aren't in fact Americans at all. They are Europeans taking on the form of Americans.

According to the Pew Center, the less you like to fly the American flag, the more likely it is you are Democrat. The more you think hard work and personal initiative aren't the ticket to the good life, the more likely you are to be a Democrat. The more you believe the United Nations is a better steward of international relations, while America is a negative actor on the world stage, the more likely you are to be a Democrat. The more you believe that the government is there to help, the more likely it is you are Democrat. The less seriously you take religion, the more likely you are to be a Democrat. Flip all of these values around and the more likely it is you are a Republican - or that you vote that way.

Of course, I'm speaking in terms of statistical generalities. Obviously, there are a great many flag-waving, God-fearing, government-mistrusting, U.N.-hating Democrats out there. But they are the exceptions to the rule.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this study is what it says about class and ideology in America. And what it says is that they don't have that much to do with each other, which runs contrary to generations of leftish stereotypes. Poor Americans who believe in the American ideal of by-your-bootstraps success are likely to vote Republican. And rich Americans who cringe at the idea of hanging a flag from their porch vote Democrat. Wealth has become a poor predictor of political affiliation. The richest blocs in the GOP and Democratic Parties - Pew calls them "Enterprisers" and "Liberals" - are roughly equally affluent. Forty-one percent of both groups make more than $75,000 per year (though there are nearly twice as many "Liberals" as there are "Enterprisers"). The largest segment of the Republican base - "Social Conservatives" - make less than Liberals.

So what does all of this have to do with body-snatching Europhiles? Well, basically, everything. The ideas, assumptions and prejudices held by the statistically typical Democratic voter, according to the Pew study, are quite simply, European. Europeans believe in a strong social welfare state, for rich and poor alike. Europeans are cynical. They look askance - these days - on patriotic sentiment (hence the rush to form a new European nation). The church pews of Europe would make a great hideout for bank robbers since they're always empty. The United Nations is, in the typical European's worldview, the last best hope for mankind. From the death penalty to gay marriage, the more similar you are to a typical European in your political and social outlook, the more likely you are to be a Democrat.

We've seen this before. At the time of our nation's founding, there were a bunch of Americans who clung to European values. Today we call their descendants "Canadians." Up north, the government isn't something to be distrusted so much as something to be obeyed. For example, when the government told the people to switch to the metric system, they did. Our government told us to do the same thing at about the same time, and America barely even noticed.

For many generations after the American Revolution, the idea of emulating European politics was nigh upon heresy. It wasn't until Woodrow Wilson, who encouraged Americans to see themselves as citizens of the world, that borrowing ideas from the continent became fully politically acceptable. Prior to Wilson, writes Richard Hofstadter, Americans considered the United States to be the "anti-Europe." But it was FDR's New Deal which helped "assimilate the American into the 'European' political experience," in the words of Daniel Boorstin. George Kennan's childhood reminiscence illustrates the typical American frame of mind prior to the New Deal. When "times were hard," he wrote, "as they often were, groans and lamentations went up to God, but never to Washington."

So, if you're worried about the Europeanization of America, let me quote from the original "Body Snatchers": "They're here already! You're next! You're next! You're next.."