JONATHAN CHAIT MARCH 17, 2010
Charles Krauthammer says that Americans resist universal health care, in part, because we're refugees from big government Europe:
This spirit of being independent and not wanting to be controlled by the government is something that is intrinsic in America. It’s the essence of America. And it’s what distinguishes Americans who are essentially refugees of the old society in Europe. That’s why it’s always been harder to make Americans break to the yoke of government, as happened in Europe.
Matthew Yglesias replies, "My ancestors fled Europe more because of the pogroms than because of the Czar’s efforts to expand the welfare state." Likewise, Ayn Rand fled Russia to escape Bolshevik redistribution. On the other hand, my ancestors fled Russia in large part because of the onerous military draft, and now I'm a liberal hawk. (Though still opposed to Russian military aggression.)
So I'm not sure what any of this tells us. I'd chime in that those Americans most generationally close to the old European immigrants are also the most comfortable with single-payer health care. People on Medicare seem to have been broken to the yoke of big government quite comfortably. It's true that this generation tends to oppose health care reform, but their concerns deal more with not wanting to share the big government yoke with others than any desire to throw it off.