Since the dawn of man no people in any civilization have lived as freely and comfortably as we do in the United States of America in 2016. This unprecedented freedom and prosperity came at great sacrifice to previous and current generations of Americans that believed and still believe in the idea of American Exceptionalism. This ideal of American Exceptionalism should not be mistaken with perfection. America is not and has never been perfect, but it has been the undeniable beacon of hope for millions throughout its existence. This American Exceptionalism initially manifested itself in a battle to break the chains of oppression applied by Great Britain and her King. It continued through a great schism within our own borders in which freedom and true human dignity prevailed over the immoral status quo of legalized slavery. It culminated by defeating Nazism and fascism’s global conquest in World War II, and continues to be seen in the battle against terrorism everyday to prevent attacks on our country and to ease the suffering of people around the world. In all of these instances the common thread and reason for victory is the spirit of the American people. We are different from other people and there is absolutely no reason to try and hide that fact or be ashamed of it.
The core tenant of the American spirit is love. Not strength, not ingenuity, not power, but love. In a society built upon the principles of liberty and freedom the citizens have a greater responsibility to love one another because the government should not be involved in enforcing how we act. Without love, the system will fail. We are individualists; we celebrate the power of the individual to accomplish incredible feats when not overly burdened by the government. Among those results are incredible ingenuity and strength and power. We celebrate individual accomplishment with vigor and money, and we should. However, the individual that accomplishes much and only looks out for their own self-interest and self-gain is not living in the American spirit. In the same vein the individual that relies solely on the work of others to survive and is unwilling to sacrifice in order to better himself or herself is equally void of the American spirit. It is simple, work as hard as you can to better yourself and thereby better society.
So in this individualistic society what is the role of the federal government? Let’s go back to basics to find that Jefferson had it correct when he wrote that the government’s role is to “protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. The federal government’s role is not to ensure every citizen has access to affordable healthcare or to make sure that everyone has access to higher education. It is to protect life- to set up law and order and ensure national defense. It is protect liberty- to ensure that people are free to choose their own life and that no one can force them to do something they don’t want to do. It is to protect the pursuit of happiness- not to ensure happiness but ensure that the rules of the game allow for happiness’ active pursuit by all regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. It is not the federal government’s responsibility to ensure we and our neighbors have everything we need, that’s our responsibility as individuals and communities. Instead it is our responsibility to ensure the government only does what it is supposed to. We have the power; we are Americans.
We, the American electorate, have created a system of entitlement so entrenched in our citizenry that many people feel the government owes them something but that they owe nothing in return, a system where voters cast votes on their ostensible self-interest but neglect their true self-interest. This system cannot last and the perceived peace and stability that exists today will be filled with turmoil and anxiety without a change, not a political change, but a lifestyle change. We must band together and not abandon our own self-interest, but seek to understand how those interests fit into the overall fabric of our society. Greed and sloth are equally bad, yet we currently have a political system in which those are our choices. Republicans seem to defend greed with vigor and Democrats think that laziness doesn’t even exist. Unfortunately, we are bound by the constraints of the real world where both of those flawed lines of thinking have very real consequences to our political health and sustainability.
How do you enact a lifestyle change across a populous of over 300 million Americans to start a movement of real change toward more rational, more responsible self-governance? We, the good citizens, must set the example. We must not be greedy or slothful, we must hold our government to account and serve both our own self-interests and help our neighbors and fellow Americas serve theirs. We must serve our country and not expect our government to serve us. How do we start a movement to encourage a political lifestyle change in a country of 300 million people? Reject the notion of only two parties controlling out political fate, find a new third way…through love.