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  • What Makes America Exceptional?

    In this final part of our series highlighting the thoughts of conservative and libertarian leaders on American Independence and the Founding, we asked: What do you think makes America exceptional?

    Lawrence W. Reed, President of the Foundation for Economic Education: America is exceptional because Americans after the Founding showed that they really did take their new freedoms seriously. They did not expect much from their new government, other than to protect the peace and otherwise leave them alone. They didn’t wait for government to show them how to build a vibrant civil society; they just did it, and to a greater extent than any people before or since. In the 19th Century, they settled the continent; they formed endless and powerful problem-solving, private entities; they cultivated the virtues necessary for freedom to survive; and they welcomed millions to their shores to share the freedom experience with them.

    Matthew Spalding, Director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for American Studies at The Heritage Foundation: America indeed is an exceptional nation, but not because of what it has achieved or accomplished. American is exceptional because it is fundamentally dedicated to the principles of human liberty, grounded on the truths that all men are created equal and endowed with equal rights—permanent truths “applicable to all men and all times,” as Abraham Lincoln once said. It was because of these principles that rather than ending in tyranny the American Revolution culminated in a constitutional government that has long endured.

    America’s principles are responsible for a prosperous and just nation unlike any in the world. They explain why Americans strongly defend their country, look fondly to their nation’s origins, vigilantly assert their political rights and civic responsibilities, and remain convinced of the special meaning of their country and its role of the world. It is because of these principles, not despite them, that America has achieved its greatness.

    To this day, so many years after the American Revolution, these principles—proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence and promulgated by the United States Constitution—still define America as a nation and a people. Which is why the friends of freedom the world over look to the United States not only as an ally against tyrants and despots everywhere but also as a powerful beacon to all those who strive for liberty and seek democratic self-government.

    Cross-Posted on InsiderOnline

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    18 Responses to What Makes America Exceptional?

    1. truthteller says:

      Its pretty dishonest for individuals such as William Spalding and others to pathetically defend the so called founding fathers against the charge of the evils of racism generally and slavery specifically . Mr. Spalding deceptively tries to paint a picture that many of the founding fathers were against slavery by many of the speeches given by the founders on this important subject. However, Mr. Spalding and others fail to answer the most basic question of them all. DID THE FOUNDERS THEMSELVES OWN SLAVES? ANS. ABSOLUTELY YES . It is of no consequence that many of the founders spoke out against slavery if they themselves had them in their backyard. If a husband says," its wrong for a man to hit his wife". Then every night after work he goes home and beats his wife. According to Mr. Spalding and other defenders of the founders , then that husband should be absolved for his crimes of physically abusing his wife simply because he spoke out against it. We would truly live in a very scary society indeed, if that was the standard to allow someone to have their crimes go unpunished. Mr. Spalding and others also fail to ever mention the incindiary words of Thomas Jefferson himself, when he said, "Negroes cannot be trusted to be freed". Mr. Spalding and others further try and distract from the real issue by pointing out ( correctly) that the founders did not start slavery. No one ever charged the founders with this. However, the charge is (correctly) that they perpetuated slavery by their own actions. At the end of the day this debate can be resolved with a simple logical analysis. 1.Slavery was a crime against humanity 2. If you were a slave owner then you are a criminal against humanity . 3. the founders were slave owners. 4. THEREFORE the founders were criminals against humanity. I would like to conclude that a crime that is inherently attached to slavery is the crime of RAPE. As a slave there could never be any refusing of a slave master's sexual advances. As a black male slave who had a black female slave for a wife, that black male had to suffer the indignity of having to stand by as the slavemaster raped his wife. This is just a sample of the type of horrific environment that the founders allowed to be perpetuated under their watch. Many of us as children were taught from our parents the great lesson that , "Actions speak louder than words". It is obvious that neither Mr. Spalding nor the founders were ever taught this lesson.

    2. Robert Kucher says:

      As i ponder yet another Independence Day i find myself wondering how many of us know what it means to be Free and Independent.

      We fill up our cars with gas, go to work, come home to our families and children.

      How often do we realize the sacrafice that was made for our freedom. I find myself running the same ritual again this year wich still brings tears to my eyes. For many of us it is secondary, even tertiary,……….If you are reading this, what is your reaction to the opening 15 minutes of "Saving Private Ryan"?? Do you weap.? Do you Dread.? Or, do you A. Feel the Hairs standing on the back of you neck and B. Say to yourself….God Bless those men for sacrificing everything for freedom…..I pose this question now, to all of us..Look at yourselfs one by one and then think,…What would it be like WITHOUT the USA"

    3. MJF, CT says:

      One of the reasons that most Americans do not appreciate the efforts given by our Founding Fathers and those who put their lives on the line for freedom, is they know nothing of what it is to be oppressed by tyranny.

      I was lucky enough to have a mother who lived most of her young life in Germany. She lived through the depression of Europe and the rise and reign of the Nazis. She escaped Gestapo nets put out for her and her parents because of Hungarian ancestry. She saw what happens when the government takes over everything and one person runs the show. When she came to the USA, she knew that she would never again have to look over her shoulder or run for her life because she was free.

      My mother taught me more about freedom and the founding of our Country than any teacher or book ever could. She and all of the other people who actually LIVED without freedom and government oppression know more about how great this Country is than any Senator or Congressman ever could.

      We who live in this Country should be proud of the fact that a handful of men and women took it upon themselves to break from England's clutches. The battles the fought both on the fields and in the Congress were battles that formed this Nation. A Nation that we have inherited – and look what we have done to it!

    4. val, houston,texas says:

      i cant wait to vote in november..i really hope people come out in mass and vote out these liberal tyrants and the rhino republicans..i am sick and outraged with what this so called "demigod" of a president is doing with our country..i feel he should be impeached for his lack of not protecting the constitution..

    5. John Sangenario, Ham says:

      American exceptionalism is grounded in the opportunity our form of government used to provide for individuals to aspire to and achieve success or failure with out government interference. All the great inventions and productive capacity came out of America during the 20th century due to individual freedom. e.g. It could be said the Liberty boats beat the German U-Boats in WWII because one man had the foresight,knowhow and will to accomplish his 'one boat a day' production goal. It could also be said the Russians couldn't steal our secrets fast enough to put them into production before they were superceded with bigger and better secrets from the sheer volume of individuals working in their homes, garages, shops and cellars. This is a nation of individuals who can do anything but the government is an absolute hindrance to us now.

    6. Charles Dixon, Kento says:

      To say that all of the Founders were slave owners would be an incorrect statement, just as saying that they were all opposed to slavery. They were men that were a reflection of the brightest minds of their day with one purpose and that was to create a new nation unlike any nation the world had ever seen or ever would see. They left room in their grand scheme that all could see this experiment in democracy endure. And endure it has. We are not perfect nor will we ever be. Because of the seeds they planted we no longer have slavery. Women and men are equals. We have the right to vote. We have freedom to worship as our hearts guide. We are what the rest of the world wants, a free nation governed by a set of laws that believes in the value of each person's rights. If it were today that our nation was forming instead of slavery the lines of disagreement would be abortion and gay rights. Tomorrow there will be other issues. Even with our differences The United States of America is still the greatest nation on Earth. May she celebrate many more birthdays. God bless America.

    7. ann kitay fulton, tx says:

      What I believe – we are a polyglot nation of peoples who have always gotten things done because we never thought we Couldn't! If we could think it or feel it, we did it – and we are that way still though too many of us have forgotten. We are the Original CAN-DO people.

    8. ReCon USMC says:

      To Truth Teller .. not quite .

      What you left of Your .. our Forefathers put down is …

      America fought no War with Africa and brought back no Prisoners of War .

      They were sold By Chiefs who used other Tribes as Slaves themselves won in Wars .

      Where is the Black and the Left's anger there ?

      By then Slavery had existed for 3000 plus years .

      Man kind knew no better since it has been past down with all colors being slaves .

      Whites were fed to the Lions … 30 Million slaves built the great wall of China .

      Hitler enslaved 9 Million Jews and more were gassed than all the Blacks brought to America yet they mean nothing to our Forefather haters

      That sad way of life had existed since Time began and in fact more Whites have been slaves than Blacks you leftist never mention as have Chinese .

      WE Never talk about Slavery still exist in Africa today .

      The world only talks about our Forefathers slavery but it is nothing in comparison with Muslim and Arab slavery .

      Over 55 Million Blacks were taken from Africa to build the Pyramids for 2000 years . Most were worked and staved to death

      Yet blacks proudly often name their Children Muslim names without changing religions .

      Go Figure .

    9. Patricia says:

      ohhh trueteller I can tell you worship at the feet of liberalism you judge without any regards or perspective to the times when our founders lived and died and the fact that they were God fearing people. You also spread things like the master raping the slaves like if it happened all the time. How do you know? were you there? or you watched Oprah's movies?

      You come to destroy everything we hold dear but sorry to say we can see through you…… I know you probably are an academia type, indoctrinating our kids to hate our country.

    10. Pingback: Rightwing Links (July 5, 2010)

    11. Juan Narvaez, Oviedo says:

      What makes America exemtional is FREEDOM. America has liberated the world, everybody wants to come to America, however, not everyone comes with good intentions. But freedom is not cheap and it must not be taken for granted. We must maintain constant vigilance because there are those who want to distroy it from within.

      I ask of every citizen not to let your guard down. American soldiers have paid the ultimate sacrifice so that all who want to live free, would. It is not enough to say "I support the troops" you must show courage and back up your words with actions. Now and for ever.

    12. John Walters, Texas says:

      I found the comments by truthteller very interesting. I admit that I am astounded by the total lack of historical relevance shown by his comments but am hopeful that additional research will resolve the obvious ignorance. Surely they will learn, through just the most cursory research that slavery was practiced world wide and had been practiced since the beginning of human intervention. To recuse the founders for speaking against what was at that time a societal norm, espousing a new societal norm, as wrong because they participated in living within that same society is absurd. You would just as well say that those espousing energy conservation today should do without electricity entirely unless their energy company provides 100% renewable energy. Perhaps the writer is suggesting that those speaking on behalf of renewable energy should not speak because some portion of their energy comes from coal or natural gas. The facts that the technology is not yet available to make the alternative energy sources commercially viable should be no barrier to the defamation of these people I suppose.

      As for wife beating, during the time in America that women were seen as chattel, many spoke against this societal norm and I for one do not care what they did in their homes at night so long as their public outcry was in opposition. I feel confident that even truthteller has, through age and experience, found that some things they did were things that they later found objectionable. I suspect that once the realization became clear, they also suffered a period of changing their habits to conform to their developing belief of a new norm. Or, perhaps they are more magical that mere men.

    13. Robert Engler, Plano says:

      Truthteller: I'm not sure who the William Spalding is that you refer to in your post; if you meant Matthew Spalding, the author of "We Still Hold These Truths," I would say the sloppiness of the first line of your comment reflects thinking that produced the emotional but intellectually suspect response to M. Spalding's post.

      First, you CAPITALIZE your claim that the Founders owned slaves, by which it appears you mean all of them did. That's not true. John Adams, for instance, one of the Committee of 5 charged with drafting the Declaration, freed a slave that had been given to him as a gift. Many others were outright abolitionists.

      Yet those abolitionists and anti-slavery Founders knew if they were going to create a nation "conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal", they needed to compromise with the southern states. Lincoln, I think, pointed out that ending slavery was not a necessary precondition for declaring independence from Great Britain.

      And the compromise cut both ways. On the one hand, it created a beacon of freedom the world still looks to today. On the other hand, it also put the young country on the path to a war that nearly destroyed the American experiment, but ultimately at a horrible and bloody cost ended slavery. I'll leave it to you to judge whether or not the architects of that compromise committed crimes against humanity.

      You can curse the darkness of 234 years ago, my friend, or you can recognize the genius of the Founders and light a candle to rediscovering the principles that make America not a perfect nation, but certainly the most exceptional one in the history of the world.

      Moreover, in the wake of the Declaration, all of new states (even Virginia, the sole exception being Georgia) took radical steps to abolish slavery or otherwise strictly curtail it.

      The Founders

      However, the charge is (correctly) that they perpetuated slavery by their own actions. At the end of the day this debate can be resolved with a simple logical analysis. 1.Slavery was a crime against humanity 2. If you were a slave owner then you are a criminal against humanity . 3. the founders were slave owners. 4. THEREFORE the founders were criminals against humanity. I would like to conclude that a crime that is inherently attached to slavery is the crime of RAPE. As a slave there could never be any refusing of a slave master’s sexual advances. As a black male slave who had a black female slave for a wife, that black male had to suffer the indignity of having to stand by as the slavemaster raped his wife. This is just a sample of the type of horrific environment that the founders allowed to be perpetuated under their watch. Many of us as children were taught from our parents the great lesson that , “Actions speak louder than words”. It is obvious that neither Mr. Spalding nor the founders were ever taught this lesson.

    14. Drew Page, IL says:

      There are many things that have contributed to America's exceptionalism including the responsibilities and limits placed on the government by the governed, the system of checks and balances among the branches of government and the personal freedom guarantees contained in our Constitution.

      Yet each of those things that contribute to America's exceptionalism is a two edged sword. Freedom, like anything else worthwhile, comes at a price. At times that price is paid in treasure and sometimes in blood. Most often that price is not paid equally by the citizens who enjoy that freedom. From day one, through today and into tomorrow, the argument continues to rage as to what the price should be, who should bear it and how it should be apportioned.

    15. Ron Bowman, Seattle, says:

      I wonder how truthteller, who espouses a valid view that many progressives, revisionist historians, and liberals hold today, namely that America is no place to be proud of, explains the influx of peoples from all over the earth to this awful place he has determined America to be. They fled tyranical governments, religious and political oppression, natural and man-made disasters of all sorts, and societies where their status as citizens was determined by a blood line or a caste like system devoid of personal, family or religious freedom. I guess they don't see the same America that truthteller sees.

      And how does tt ( I choke when I refer to him as any sort of truth teller) explain how blacks could don a Confederate uniform and fight for the Confederacy. Or how many slaves stayed with their former masters after the Civil War or returned to the South when the green pastures in the North were not as receptive to their presence as they were led to believe. Racial prejudice exists today as it did then, though not to the same extent. Not everyone in the South owned slaves, though many aspired to, and not everyone in the North was against it.

      Aren't we glad slavery in America, as it existed then in America, Africa, Europe, and parts of Asia, does not exist today? Were there cruel slave masters back then, were blacks treated differently than today, have we solved the problem of racism completely? The answers to these questions are obvious. But people of color from all over the world continue to flock to the United States for the same reasons that any other racial or ethnic person does. They know that few places on earth offer the economic opportunities that are available here. And no other place on this planet offers them the personal freedoms that America offers them.

      I am proud to be an American, a Vietnam veteran, and a citizen that loves his country, warts and all. Thank a vet you know tt, they put their life on the line so you could write hateful things about your country and not be put in jail or perhaps lose your life.

    16. Brent Holbert Texas says:


      The 50 Grand Jobs Plan

      Think of the innovation that has been created in the US economy with a good idea, 50 grand and the right mentor. Create one million $50,000 entrepreneur “loans”. We The People, It is our money why can’t we choose who gets it? It is not the government who decides if an applicant is worthy of the loan it is a citizen who decides.

      Here is how it works. Take 50 billion dollars out of the bank payback kitty, divide that by $50,000 and create one million $50,000 loans.

      Each citizen decider/volunteer/mentor has to be a proven business success and committed to working with 2 loan applications/business plans during a calendar year plus be willing to mentor the recipients. The payoff for the mentor is a tax deduction that is residual. The tax deductions take effect and the percentage increases with each of the chosen applicant successes (they can pick a couple every year if the program is extended). Success is determined by a winning applicants hiring of a minimum of two employees the first year and keeping them employed for 365 days in the following year after their approval (it is a two year plan). If the approved applicant continues to succeed in the future years the “mentor” gets a tax break for those years as well and the more his choices succeed the smaller his annual tax liability. The well screened and pre-approved “mentors” (they have to apply to be a mentor) sign contracts not to steal ideas and can then scan through the web-based business plans database and choose the applicants/business plans they think have a real shot at success. These business “mentors” will be far better at making the right decision on who gets the money than some government hack or committee especially when the payoff is less taxes for themselves. Millions of entrepreneurs could post their plans online and have a shot at not only 50 grand but also a top gun mentor with something to gain from their success. Good business people can spot good ideas and if only 30% succeed that is 300,000 new businesses in the job market with two employees that is 600,000 new jobs plus the 300,000 new business owners. 900,000 jobs! The “mentor” might even become an investor and why not if the idea succeeds they pay less taxes. EACH WINNING APPLICANT WHETHER THEY SUCCEED OR NOT HAVE TO PAY THE 50 GRAND BACK STARTING 2 YEARS AFTER THE FUNDS ARE AWARDED VIA A LOAN PMT OR THROUGH THEIR TAX RETURNS OR BY ADDING IT TO THEIR ANNUAL TAX BILL OVER SEVERAL YEARS IF THEY SKIP PAYMENTS. NO ESCAPE! The 50 billion they pay back goes directly to deficit reduction. Even if the mentors game the system for tax deductions by assisting the winning applicants with funding or creating companies the American people still win and hundreds of thousands of jobs and businesses are created.

      • JoJo says:

        Sounds like lots of room for graft in this scheme. Just might get some support for it on that basis alone.

    17. Billie says:

      Way to share the truth to the misinformed truthteller!

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