by C Howard Diaz
A couple years ago a friend of mine, who lives in the UK, sent me an email of an article that was posted in the UK’s Sunday Times. The title was:
“American Exceptionalism: An Experiment in History,” by Charles Murray.
The article had a sub title that asked:
“America was a social experiment that has survived against the odds. But is its unique appeal waning?”
The article in the Times was a collection of excerpts from the original book with no editorial comments. I liked the article, not by how they cut and pasted the excerpts from the book, but for a few paragraphs that intrigued me.
So much so that I immediately found the Kindle Edition on Amazon and downloaded the book. With only 72 pages, it was a short and wonderful read. Wonderful, because what Charles Murray wrote helped me to finally form an opinion I have had a hard time nailing down for years.
In my Book and on this web site, under About Editor, I try to describe what an American looks like and I didn’t really do a good job of it, or maybe I did. Part of what I stated was:
“If there is no physical trait that identifies an American, then it must be something else, possibly a frame of mind. It could be an idea or a philosophy we live by, an attitude toward a way of life, with a little conceit and arrogance about being American—a pride.”
I think I got close, but I finally figured it out, at least for myself.
The answer is, American Exceptionalism is what separates us from everyone else. That may sound conceited, but what is it I mean?
What is American Exceptionalism?
I believe it’s the exceptional trait or inner being that every human being on earth has locked inside them. Yes, every human being on earth has the possibility of doing exceptional things, not just Americans.
It can only be released when the human being is completely politically free to do what it wishes, when it wishes without any government authority telling him what to do, when to do it, how to do it or that it’s OK to do it.
Because it’s the human condition that’s exceptional, if we were to introduce the Constitution, in its purest form around the world, the people of that part of the world would develop and raise all the people up to better living conditions.
Don’t believe me? Check out China, India, Vietnam and other countries around the world that are moving toward Free Market Capitalism. If they had the Constitution to guide them it would just get them there at warp speed.
This state of pure freedom was exactly what America must have been like for the first one hundred plus years before the progressive liberals started to erode our Constitutional freedom.
Too few of us take the time to consider that before America and the Constitution there weren’t any places on earth, for all history, that man hasn’t been shackled by overseers that had veto power over their actions.
Every continent on Earth has the resources that the United States has. Some have even more. Think Africa. Yet, the United States of America is the only country whose citizens allowed themselves the ability to mine for gold, iron, coal, to drill for oil and gas without any intrusion of the central federal government. They staked out their own property with rules they made among themselves.
They built cities, railroads, canals, steamships, almost every invention in America without the Federal Government’s permission.
They died crossing the Sierra Nevada’s. Right or wrong, they fought and some died trying to move west. For us to judge the people from a different time using a prism of today would be as wrong as the act you think they did was wrong. It’s HISTORY!
Orville and Wilber didn’t need an FAA permit to fly their aircraft. Edison didn’t need a Federal permit to wire New York with electricity.
No other country has ever, in the history of man, been controlled by the people who allowed themselves a free market Capitalist system that ended up helping more raise themselves from poverty than any other system in the history of man.
In the 50 years following the Civil War, America’s GNP more than tripled. One of the largest spikes in growth America has ever seen. (NGHC)*
69 of the 100 richest men in American history made their fortunes during that period, (NGHC)
One of those men was worth $660 Billion dollars, 10 times the worth of Bill Gates. (NGHC)
One became so rich he personally bailed out the US government, twice. (NGHC)
And one donated the equivalent of over $100 billion to charity, which is more than donated by the 25 top philanthropists today. (NGHC)
They were men like Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, and Ford
At age 16 Vanderbilt borrowed $100 to buy a ferry boat. Over the next forty years he built a shipping empire. Then he sold it and saw railroads as the future. He negotiated and bought his way to building the greatest railroad empire of the time.
Yes, all people have the exceptional spirit inside them, only in America could it be released to grow and aspire at every level of the ladder of success. I made it on my small tiny ladder, but I made it and that’s what I believe and you can’t take that away from me.
There are four paragraphs that helped lead me to my conclusion. Three are from American Exceptionalism: An Experiment in History, Charles Murray.
The first paragraph is:
“Republican government itself is widely thought to be impracticable and unstable. No country in continental Europe has a constitutional monarchy, let alone a republic in which all power ultimately resides in the citizens.”
The second paragraph states:
“It is widely thought to be impossible for a nation to function with a head of state elected for a limited term. How can the Americans realistically expect a successful, popular president who is chief executive, head of state, and commander-in-chief of the nation’s armed forces to retire voluntarily? Every lesson of history teaches that transmission of power through an electoral system doesn’t work for long.”
Because it never happened before. All conquering Generals became Kings or Emperors.
The third paragraph,
“Surely it is impossible that a piece of paper, the constitution, can command the allegiance — indeed, the reverence — that the American system will require? Most stunning of all, you are watching the first nation in the world translate an ideology of individual liberty into a governing creed. As an educated European of the 18th century you are familiar with the Enlightenment. But philosophy is one thing; it is quite another to restrict the power of the central government as radically as the American constitution does.”
And for the fourth, I remembered what I had read in The Pictorial Life of George Washington, by John Frost;
“The levees of the first President were attended by these illustrious patriots and statesmen, and by many others of the patriots, statesmen, and soldiers, who could say of the Revolution, “ magna pars fui while numbers of foreigners and strangers of distinction crowded to the seat of the general government, all anxious to witness the grand experiment that was to determine how much rational liberty mankind is capable of enjoying, without said liberty degenerating into licentiousness.”
What a word for a writer of the early 1800’s to have used, Licentiousness.
Looking on the Internet I found three main definitions for the word.
1. Acting without regard to law, ethics, or the rights of others.
2. Lacking moral discipline or ignoring legal restraint, especially in sexual conduct.
3. Having no regard for accepted rules or standards.
I think our liberty has degenerated into licentiousness and the answer to the sub-title’s question, “is its (the Constitution’s) unique appeal waning?”
Yes, the freedom the Constitution gave us is waning and our “take risks,” “work hard,” mentality is being replaced by Federal controlled health care, food stamps, cell phones, welfare and unemployment checks.
As John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
As it turns out, the elites and royals of Europe were correct, the average man can never stay free. The average man is a hard working honest human being.
Having been born in 1937, the first half of my life was spent in a much freer America. I’ve watched as a person’s ability to create his own business has become more and more difficult. My God, a car salesmen need college degree’s to sell cars.
Manufacturing jobs don’t exist because they have been chased out of our country by excessive regulations imposed by central authority offices like OSHA, EEOC and EPA. Those organizations will do nothing but insure we all go broke safely, clean, and equally.
America has the worst job situation since the great depression and not one person is asking the federal government to get out of the way and let the free market work. A form of crony capitalism has replaced free market capitalism and we are falling fast.
It’s the evil in man who strives for more power that trumps the good in man who only seeks freedom.
It did work for many years and could work again, but we really need change in 2014 and 2016 or things will only get worse.
* National Geographic History Chanel