The American Ideal is easy in principle…
“. . . WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.”
… however, although most Americans profess to believe the above in principle, things fall apart in practice. Because of this disconnect, America is marching in ignorance toward the cliff of socialism. We have betrayed our founding principles and are committing slow suicide.
We have become a divided people and spend our time squabbling about things of little consequence on the deck of a sinking ship. Meanwhile, the enemies of freedom blow holes in the ship from without and within.
In one sense, this state of affairs is not so unusual. After all, this has been the lot of humanity for centuries, even for Democracies. Democracies always wind up committing suicide once the general public becomes corrupt enough to believe they can vote themselves benefits from the government, instead of earning them. (Power lusting politicians are of course all too happy to comply).
This leads to the type of political division and conflict that has appeared anywhere humans have had to live in one place with each other for any length of time. The Founders knew human nature. Legend has it that after the Constitutional convention in 1787, when Benjamin Franklin was asked what type of government had been created, he answered, “A Republic―if you can keep it.”
However, in another sense, it is surprising and tragic to see this division and this steady slide toward socialism in America. Why? America is the one country in history founded on a specific set of ideas and principles. These principles were designed not to divide, but to unite us as one people―people committed to the proposition that all men are created equal, have unalienable rights, and should therefore be left free. Thanks to the wisdom of our Founders, America was formed as a Constitutional Republic, not a Democracy.
The motto selected as the official seal of the new American government was “E Pluribus Unum,” or “out of many, one.” This perfectly encapsulated the fact that an extremely diverse group of people were becoming united by the power of an idea, rather than by race, class, ethnicity, geography, conquest or religious creed.
That idea is still best expressed in one word…
Although the word has been used an abused over the past two centuries, it is still the one word that best encapsulates the concept of the free and independent individual.
What light is to the eyes – what air is to the lungs – what love is to the heart, liberty is to the soul of man. Without liberty, the brain is a dungeon, where the chained thoughts die with their pinions pressed against the hingeless doors. ―Robert G. Ingersoll
To America’s Founders, securing Liberty for each and every individual was the goal and the end of government. Once Liberty was secured, it was up to free men and women to make something of their lives and provide for themselves through industry and self-reliance. To be an American used to mean that you accepted the fact that your freedom required responsibility. It also meant that you could not claim liberty for yourself unless you fully respected the liberty of others.
The number one problem in this country today is that we have lost any meaningful understanding of what Liberty means in a political context. To me, that’s the core issue, because Liberty is an absolute requirement of man’s nature. It’s non-negotiable. It’s also the key that opens the door to the real magic of America. That magic is contained in Jefferson’s immortal phrase, “the pursuit of happiness.”
The idea that the individual has an unalienable right to pursue his or her own individual happiness is at once the motive force of America and the magnet that continues to draw people from the far-flung corners of the globe.
It is the idea that your individual life has meaning, and that it is your own. It is the idea that no matter what your background, your upbringing, your station in life, you can achieve your dreams and goals as long as you are willing to pursue them and achieve them through your own efforts. It is the idea that your destiny is in your own hands, that it is not determined by fate, nor is it proscribed to you by your parents or your community or your government.
This is what is commonly called the American Dream, and there are as many variations of it as there are Americans. But it is this dream, this idea of individual liberty and self-made destiny that has united millions of people of differing cultures, religions, races, ethnic origins, languages, and beliefs, and enabled them to live together in these United States for two centuries in relative harmony and cooperation.
Historically, that is a unique phenomenon. However, it will not continue if the American people do not have an abiding respect for one another’s Liberty and the concept of Individual Rights.
We simply can’t afford to lose or give up on the idea of Liberty as the only just and proper organizing principle of this society. This is especially important today as we are at war with those who seek to destroy Liberty anywhere it shines. Tragically, while our brave men and women in the military wage this war abroad, we are swiftly letting Liberty erode at home. We have been drifting in the wrong direction for almost 100 years and we are currently in the midst of an unprecedented lurch toward statism and socialism.
How could this be happening in America? How could we possibly be trying to make watered down versions of socialism and fascism work here in the “land of the free”― especially considering the history of the 20th century?
I believe the answer can be found in two things: (1) the tremendous ignorance of much of the population about the principles of liberty as well as their value; and (2) the fact that both major political parties share fundamental premises that are at odds with the American Ideal of Liberty.
The purpose of this book is to try to bring back to life the principles of Liberty and show the critical importance of upholding Individual Rights consistently and without compromise. It is only the American Ideal of 1776 ― LIBERTY ― that can unify and get this country moving forward again. Human nature has not changed since 1776, and upholding Liberty as an absolute is still―and will always be―the best path to peace, security, happiness, and prosperity for all.
However, we cannot truly restore freedom in this country with conventional thinking. Once the current scourge of socialism is beaten back, we can’t simply go back to a different flavor of the same thing under the banner of the other party.
What we really need is an intellectual revolution that goes far beyond the typical ideas of both liberals and conservatives. In fact, what we need is nothing less than a philosophical revolution that does justice to our Founders and allows us to complete what they started by reclaiming our Liberty and securing it for our posterity―for good this time.
I truly hope we can re-ignite the flame of Liberty before it’s too late. We will not like what comes after America.
– The above is Copyright 2013, Thomas J. Malone. All Rights Reserved.