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  • Nothing illustrates the political gulf between the US and Europe better than the way the word “liberal” is used. One of the Republican candidates for the Senate, Pat Toomey, said last week: “We have the most liberal government in history”. In Europe this would generally be seen as a good thing, but he meant it as the worst kind of criticism. He continued: “They are trying to transform us into a European-style welfare state”. For his American audience, Toomey might as well have said “They are tryng to transform us into a Stalinist dictatorship” – but, again, to a European, the term “welfare state” is overwhelmingly positive. When it comes to politics, we really don’t speak the same language.