I was out with American expat friends last night, catching up on family and community events and exchanging ideas for improving the world. We’re polar opposites politically, so there are different perspectives on almost any agreed fact, enriched by their foreign service background. It’s still gospel in right-wing circles that Obama will socialize the country, that Takers are defeating the Makers, that high-quality health care is over, that personal taxes will reach Dutch levels, that debt will rival the Greeks.
But scratch the surface, and we can agree that there needs to be a better balance between revenue and spending, that Strivers need to be encouraged, that Mitt should pay more than 14% tax, that healthcare insurance rates are too high, that everyone should have health insurance, that debt should be reduced, and that the parties need to avoid extremist candidates.
And, left and right, we share some wine and some food and we argue late into the evening about whether there is such a thing as Soft Power and where the best Christmas Markets are located. (No, small countries can’t influence world events by exporting media and philosophy; Liege is good for eten but Koln has the best markt.)
We failed to notice that the food hadn’t come after almost two hours. We agree that we’re all tired of negligent service at restaurants and hotels, of late, expensive trains and slow, inconsistent internet providers, from cost-shaving doctors and price-gouging landlords. This will be the year that we quietly, politely insist that things improve.
And, with that, we took our wine and our leave and decamped to another restaurant.
Taking pictures of the lights along the way.