Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

04 July 2014

Why is American Independence Day Exceptionally Worthy of Celebration?

We are often told that we celebrate the 4th of July because American troops have fought to keep us free.  Or, it is simply claimed that the USA is the greatest country on Earth.  Some even say America is exceptional, but too often stumble over an explanation as to why that is so or was so.  Some say it is because America is a democracy.  None of these explanations is worthy of those Americans who have understood or who do now understand the real basis for American Exceptionalism.

American Exceptionalism is founded on the fact that the United States of America was to have a government that recognized that:
  • All individuals are equal before the law.
  • Each individual has the right to life, liberty, property, self-ownership, and the pursuit of happiness and these rights are broad.
  • Government is not the source of these individual rights.
  • Legitimate government exists to protect these individual rights.
  • Legitimate government has a very limited scope and no powers but such as are enumerated in the people's mandate for government, the Constitution. 
Together, these requirements and aims of government constitute the American Principle.

Today, only a minority of Americans believe in the American Principle.  Because of this, the United States of America has definitely lost much of its Exceptionalism.  The Index of Economic Freedom of the Heritage Foundation says the USA is the 12th freest nation, rather high in the group of mostly free nations, but falling once again compared to earlier rankings. The Simon Fraser Institute and Cato Institute do an evaluation of economic freedom around the world also.  Their 2013 report on the degree of freedom in 2011 places the USA in the number 17 position and falling from its earlier rankings.  So, yes the USA is the world's most powerful country.  It is a comparatively free country.  But it is not the world's freest country.

Frankly, the USA is not living up to the American Principle.  It is the American Principle that would make us the freest country in the world.  It is this principle that provides the basis for the great opportunities for personal happiness that we have often provided better than other countries in the past.  On Independence Day we should all be renewing our commitment to the American Principle and we should be paying respect to those Americans who were committed to it in the past and to those who are committed to it today.  We should all be eager to see America once again the premier country in the world with respect to our most important political value, our Liberty as individuals.

2 comments:

Harry Dale Huffman said...

I knew there was a better way to say what you were saying here, and I knew what those words were; but it wasn't until I remembered where they originated that it all came together for your "Independence Day" theme here. Because they are not to be found in the US Constitution, which so many proclaim or rant about. No, what makes the US so exceptional is not the Constitution, but the Declaration of Independence(!) Yikes, you forgot to say that:

"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, that whensoever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying the Foundation on such Principles, and organizing the Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes, and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies, and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government...."

So there (whew!)

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

Yes, the Declaration of Independence is the all-important source for the philosophy of our American idea of governance! And the Constitution was the embodiment of the need to highly limit that government as mandated by the People and to provide the checks and balances that were perhaps to slow the inevitable effort of government to enlarge its powers and scope.

The socialists often claim that the Declaration of Independence is not a document with legal standing, yet nothing about the American system of government and the American idea that it is legitimate only when it protects individual rights makes sense without the Declaration of Independence as a cornerstone statement of the People's mandate for government. Of course socialists must undermine this critical and foundational document of our American Compact.