The American Manifesto
I am a patriotic American. I believe the U.S. is the greatest nation on the planet because of our unique culture, rooted in freedom, belief in God and a vibrant and central family life.
I believe in American Exceptionalism, the notion that we are greater than the sum of our parts, that a unique and special culture was created by the early mixing of colonial/frontier life and people from different origins. That culture was centered on the value of family, work and God. It recognized that life was made better for all when individuals were free to work and innovate and to keep the bounty of their efforts. It rejected the centrality of government in running the affairs of citizens, yet accepted the importance of reasonable and limited governance. It selected the elements of culture from Europe that worked and replaced what didn’t with uniquely American ideas.
I believe it is this unique American culture that propelled us forward from the backwaters of the British Empire to hard won independence, agricultural innovation, industrial innovation and now information innovation. It is this culture and its attendant limited government that made us the wealthiest nation on earth.
Assault on Exceptionalism
I believe our unique culture has been under assault for decades. Our government has grown well beyond its intended scope. It occurred gradually, usually, though not always, with good intentions. The assault began from the left with the progressives, and continues to this day from the left and the right. Too many people, both liberal and conservative, have fallen prey to the siren song of well-intentioned government.
I believe we have seemingly abandoned the plain text of the constitution. The constitution clearly identifies what the government is empowered to do and forbids it from doing anything else, yet this is increasingly ignored by both of the major political parties. The constitution is not intended to merely be enabling legislation. It is meant to be a strong, non-malleable framework, defining the scope of government. And, yes, it is supposed to difficult to change. That’s the purpose of having a constitution and not simply a set of laws that allow government to redefine itself at will. It is intended to be a bulwark against the expansion of government.
Yet, the debate has gradually shifted from whether government CAN do something to whether government SHOULD do something and now simply to HOW government will do something. I believe the willingness of citizens to cede more and more control of their lives to government is dangerous. It will not bring more economic or personal security and it has already undermined the unique American commitment to freedom and liberty.
I believe the assault on American Exceptionalism has also targeted the family. The American family was not simply the European family transplanted into the colonies. Frontier life was difficult, yet progress and change was visible. Unlike Europe, there was a clear sense of forward movement in the colonies. Thus there developed an emphasis on children and recognition that your hard work and sacrifice would make your children’s lives better. This made the family an engine for propagating the exceptional American culture from generation to generation. This process is being disrupted with devastating consequences.
I believe the assault has also targeted education. It has used education to infuse children with a belief in and trust of big government. Public education, of generally dismal quality, has been used to reeducate children and to undo the values passed on by their parents. The fights over politicized, postmodern, multiculturalist curricula are seemingly endless and traditional parents have less and less influence. Sex education and defense of the gay lifestyle have reached as young as second grade.
Meanwhile, we have stripped much of the substance from the curricula, particularly when it comes to American history and economics. Instead of learning about the great figures and concepts of American history our children are taught about slavery, oppression and how terrible America is. Irrelevant, minority figures from history are discussed to the exclusion of the greats who really drove a historical era. Children are taught about John Maynard Keynes as though he is state of the art, yet never so much as hear the name Milton Friedman whose ideas have supplanted Keynes’ in the real world of economics.
I believe the assault on American Exceptionalism includes an attempt to remove God from the public square. This has taken the form of a clearly false reading of the constitution. The phrase “wall of separation” appears nowhere in the constitution. When Jefferson used the phrase he was specifically referring to a church being protected from government intrusion. The first amendment states that Congress shall pass no law regarding an establishment of religion. The 18th century usage of “establishment” refers simply to an official church. It does not mean that government itself is a religion-free zone.
Our Basic Rights
I believe that our nation was conceived in freedom and that there are several basic rights that are non-negotiable.
First, is the right to limited government. The actions of both major political parties, the judiciary and the cultural Left have made this an increasingly unrecognized idea. The American Manifesto does not call for no government, just limited government that falls within the clearly defined boundaries of the constitution and that sucks as little money out of your pocket as possible.
Second, is the right of self defense. The right to self defense is a basic human right that should never be limited. That right does not end at your front door. It doesn’t end at the state line. It exists everywhere. Period. A government that interferes with this right undermines its own legitimacy.
Third, is the right of non-discrimination. This is not support for postmodern, multiculturalist nonsense. It is a basic right, racists and sexists are not welcome. We are all Americans and we are all equal. Period. You have the right to go about your business and carry on your life without being discriminated against. This idea is as American as apple pie. You do not, however, have the right to not be offended. Nor do you have the right to expect cultural concessions based on who you are.
Comments, criticisms and suggested revisions are welcome.