What it feels like to be in England

I’m an American who’s lived in England for a long time (but all of it post-Thatcher). All this time, I’ve found that bad American politics upsets me more than bad British politics does. There are lots of good reasons for this, like the power the US to have to do harm in the world. There are also some less good but understandable ones, like the fact that my identity was formed in America. But now I’m startled to find myself frightened by a bad UK government in a way that I was never frightened by a bad US government. I still think a bad US government has a lot more power to do harm in the world– obviously. But a bad UK government can do a lot more harm a lot more quickly at home. In the US, as we’re all too aware, the Senate rules make any changes desperately hard to make. And even when laws can be pushed through the House and the Senate, much is still controlled by the states, which means lots of separate battles. Here, a bad government, even one with a patched-together coalition and a narrow victory, can simply put laws through. And these laws affect all of England (though not Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland). It’s a vertiginous feeling.