THE AMERICA WE KNEW
From 1940 to 1988 the United States was unquestionably the world’s greatest superpower. The beneficiary of a great free market, intellect from around the world, and civil liberty, the nation was a beacon of opportunity, progress and liberty. There was among Americans a sense of invincibility. Best characterized by ingenuity, bravery, and compassion, America and Americans were the envy of the world. Jealously hated by some, lovingly admired by others, we were undoubtedly the greatest economic and military power the world had ever seen and the only place in the world where people yearning to be free could find refuge.
Ronald Reagan epitomized the American spirit of this era. From humble origins, he rose in radio broadcasting, in acting, and finally (and most magnificently) in politics. Originally a Roosevelt Democrat, he became a conservative Republican. He believed fundamentally that the nation’s best days were ahead of it and that, while freedom remained but one generation away from extinction, the American love of liberty would be translated into action that would overcome every obstacle placed in front of the nation.
From the Model T Ford to the personal computer to a myriad of inventions in between, America in its hay day was a formidable example of just how far mankind could elevate its condition, if only free. Those who came to the United States from foreign countries were awestruck at the wealth, variety, opportunity, and freedom this bountiful nation provided. In no other country could those who possessed almost nothing material but filled with innate talent and drive, translate those gifts into wealth. America was the great meritocracy.
We were distinctly different from Europe and proud to be so. Unlike the kind of top down control exercised by European governments over their markets, our marketplace was far less constrained. Unlike the kind of rigid social classes common in Europe, Americans enjoyed extraordinary upward (and downward) mobility. A boy who grew up on an Illinois farm could become a rocket scientist. A girl who grew up on a ranch in Montana could become a member of Congress. The Ohio son of a merchant, a boy who wondered whether man would ever fly in interplanetary space, could become a test pilot and then an astronaut. If you could dream it, you could be it.
There seemed no end to American greatness. The hope and promise captured by Walt Disney hit a chord with all American youth. Indeed, Disney’s creations captivated the world precisely because they revealed the American spirit.
Americans were an uncommonly brave people. Few have so consistently and at such great personal cost fought battles not on their own soil and not for material riches. Conflict after conflict the world over witnessed the involvement of Americans who were willing to die to ensure the survival and success of liberty.
Beginning in the Twenty-first century with the terrorist attacks, the housing bubble, the financial crises, and the persistent recession, the America of old began to give way.
The America replacing the old was one of increasing dependency, disillusionment in free choice, and reliance on the instrumentalities of the state. Distrust of politics and government, always a part of the American spirit, joined a distrust of industry and of other Americans that became more pronounced than ever before. Internecine conflict became more commonplace. Political invective and hate filled disputes that previously were characterized by civility.
Many who govern the nation do so in pursuit of their own self-interest, regardless of the cost to others. The soldier who shields his buddies with his own body atop an improvised explosive device has nothing in common with the politician who promises reforms that, if adopted, would secure his own financial future.
Those now on the ideological ascendency in education and academia would rid every element of inequality without regard to the consequences for freedom. They seek a society in which men and women are presumed indistinguishable, where children are taught to be ashamed of America’s founding principles and values, where the physically able and the physically challenged are presumed equal, where the wealthy are taxed to reduce their wealth and the proceeds are redistributed to the poor, where the government defines what we may eat, what we may own, and what we may do to our bodies in the quest for health, and where those who succeed in the market are viewed as greedy and self-serving while those who receive welfare and food stamps are said to be deserving. They not only seek equality, they seek an enforced equality, imposed by government.
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Under this new leadership, the nation is rapidly falling from grace, is losing its status as the world’s greatest superpower, is collapsing under the weight of over taxation and over regulation, and is accelerating its self-destruction through the adoption of ever greater top-down government controls and ever costlier expansions of government, making us largely indistinguishable from Europe. Increasingly, as we replace all things private with those things public, we are building a stultified, rigid system of class much like Europe. Upward mobility common in free markets has become rare as government now determines winners and losers.
Inevitably freedom triumphs, and it will again triumph in America. A revivification of the elements that made America great will occur, but sadly for this great nation it is likely to come only after much suffering. Click here to visit NewsWithViews.com home page.