I believe in American exceptionalism. I believe that God inspired Thomas Jefferson and the framers of the Constitution while this country was being conceived. Some reading this may be mocking me already for what I believe and that is okay for I truly believe that everyone is free to believe what they want. That is part of what makes America exceptional.
There is tumult, commotion, and turmoil going on all around us. Many cities are experiencing violent protests and riots. We are witnessing historic statues of American heroes being torn down by mobs. Police officers are being killed by anarchists who say they are doing it because the police are the enemy of their desired society.
As a combat veteran and a retired police officer I see things differently. Using my training and experience, I would like to explain why I believe America is an exceptional place in which to live and raise a family. I believe the forces out there who tell us they wish to “fundamentally change America” are just wrong.
America was built on the lofty principle that all men are created equal and they have certain rights given to them by God. Because these rights are God-given they cannot be taken away by man. This was a completely new concept in the world. In every other civilization the citizens’ rights came from man, such as a king or dictator.
Another new concept was the idea of limited government. The rights guaranteed by God are “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Americans were truly free to pursue happiness because their government was limited. History has shown that when a single monarch, dictator or political group has complete power, personal rights and freedoms are always diminished, eventually taken away completely.
Another concept unique to America at the time of its founding is the idea of equal justice under the law. Our founders were not thinking of social justice as some do today. They did not expect that everyone should be equal in wealth or social status for they knew that everyone had different talents and opportunities in life. Nothing was guaranteed except your right to pursue your desires and your happiness.
The founders had a genuine suspicion of government because of what they had all experienced. They knew for government to be “for the people”, it had to be an outline of rules and laws that allowed people to construct their own moral and civil code. James Madison once said: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary… In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and the next place, oblige it to control itself.” It’s the people who must control government because government won’t do it on its own. In America the people have a say about how they will be governed and by whom. If they are not happy, they can vote their leaders and representatives out of the office they hold. This was a new concept in the 18th century, which made America exceptional.
I just returned from a wonderful trip to Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota. Looking up at four of America’s best presidents reminded me of just how exceptional America is. This country has been blessed with powerful leaders who put America first and were not corrupted by their position of power.
The four faces on the mountain are, from left to right: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. The two most prominent faces are George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Washington was the father of our country, a man whom the Lord spared from death during the many battles he was in. This is evidenced by the fact that he was never wounded. In one battle alone, during the French and Indian war, he had two horses shot out from under him and received four bullet holes in his tunic without one hitting his body. In his young life he contracted Tuberculosis, Diphtheria, Dysentery on many occasions, Smallpox, Malaria, Pneumonia, Epiglottitis, Quinsy, he once had a carbuncle on his face large enough to put a fist in. To most men at the time just one of these ailments was a death sentence, but Washington was saved by the hand of providence.
Abraham Lincoln was the perfect man to save the union. He was a God-fearing man who I believe was lifted up by the lord to serve at that time. He was blessed by God with the vision needed during one of America’s darkest times to bind up the nation’s wounds. He was able, I believe with Gods help, to rid the country of the stain of slavery while at the same preserving the nation.
Next to Washington is Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence. He wrote these famous words, “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.” Without these words America would be like all other countries on earth, receiving our rights from men who have the power to suspend those rights at their whim.
Between Jefferson and Lincoln is Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt. He wrote these famous words, “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in that gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” To me these words sum up one of the reasons America is exceptional. Because of the freedoms we enjoy, men and women are free to dream and then succeed in whatever endeavor they choose.
American exceptionalism does not mean that the people are better here than in other countries. It means our Constitution is exceptional. It gives all who live here the opportunity to succeed or fail in what they choose to do in life. Americans have been given a wonderful gift, Freedom. It is up to us to preserve it for this generation and all future generations. Benjamin Franklin summed up this idea when he was asked by a woman,” Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” He replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”