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America has long been a shining light, a beacon of freedom in a world where dictatorships have been the rule. A country that stood out for its creed, its dedication to the Rule of Law and the limitations it put on its government and its elected officials. From its founding it was an inspiration to the minions longing to breath free. True it has had its failings but the fact it has confronted its short comings and corrected them is in itself a remarkable feat in the history of nations. It has also sent more soldiers to die for the freedom of others than all the nations in all the history of this planet called earth. These extraordinary qualities also led to it becoming the greatest economic force the world has ever known. All of this is summed up in the phrase American Exceptionalism.

Historically American Exceptionalism has been both a badge of honor and a responsibility born by generations of Americans. Despite this the left often holds the phrase up as a symbol American arrogance and even abroad some have come to question its meaning. *Even the name American is often berated as sign of arrogance with critics saying are not all peoples of the Americas Americans? These perversion of what the terms American and American Exceptionalism mean has coincided with a decline of the values that have defined them since the country’s founding.

The fact is American Exceptionalism has always meant the United States has held itself up to standards above and beyond other countries. It is no more a sign of arrogance than a sports team saying it will not accept anything but its player’s best. America is not just exceptional because it has been uniquely successful or for what it has accomplished but because the ideals that all of that is based on. The real question is this still really true?

The seeds from which American Exceptionalism sprouted were planted in pre-revolutionary America. Edmond Burke exclaimed before parliament that the colonists had a “fierce spirit of liberty” that was “stronger than anyplace else on earth;” protestants “adverse to all implicit submission of mind and opinion.” John Adams would later exclaim of this time that the people of the colonies were taking on a character wholly separate from that of the mother country, that the Revolution was just physical manifestation of a much deeper revolution that had happened in the minds and souls of people in the years preceding the conflict. This revolution of spirit had instilled a love of ordered liberty, individual independence, a deep respect for freewill and the Rule of Law. These values and the republic they spawned would be what defined what it meant to be an American and American Exceptionalism for generations.

Today the standards that Americans have traditionally held to and the values upon which they were based have come under an unrelenting attack by the left. Individualism has been characterized as selfishness and replaced with social awareness. Freewill is being pushed aside in the name of state sponsored social responsibility. The Rule of Law is increasingly looked at as a quaint concept out of step with the need for a “living constitution” and sympathetic based social justice.  Even success is now being demonized along with those upon whose backs this country was built and upon whom its very existence depends. The result of these changes is a fundamental change in what it means to be an American and an undermining of the meaning of American Exceptionalism.

In America increasing numbers of people look to see what the government can forcefully take from others and give to them instead of taking pride in being their own masters. A man’s conscious and beliefs, instead of being sacrosanct, are being respected only at the convenience of the government. Even judges today are increasingly making decisions based on their feelings about those in front of them rather than guilt, innocence or even the law. Finally the economic engine that carried the world into the modern era is being put in bonds of regulations and threatened with the economic doomsday that is the national debt.

The fact is if America is still an exceptional nation it is only marginally so. A fading shell of what it once was. Abandoning its values and marching ever “forward” to its own destruction time is running out for this once great shinning light on a hill. Unfortunately as America goes so will freedom and the ideas of limited government and power of the individual. This is not to say that there is no hope but time to save this last best hope of mankind is fading.

The re-election of President Obama has only reinforced the fact that America’s decline is real and the time to turn things around is short. The potentially fatal diseases of socialism and ignorance are taking their toll. America needs a  resurgence of individual pride and self-reliance. A rekindling of the basic knowledge of why economic freedom and the Rule of Law are fundamental to being a free society. Something that will take an all out effort by those who still carry the fire of the forefathers in their hearts to accomplish it. What is needed is no less a revolution of the hearts and minds of the citizens of this great country than what happen among the colonists prior to the country’s founding.

The Conservative Mind

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*It is a common refrain among intellectual elites and in many foreign countries that the term American is arrogant and an insult to others who live in North and South America. Some press in foreign countries have even gone as far as to start referring to Americans as North Americans, a designation that would seem to be insulting to Mexicans and Canadians as it seems to suggest they do not count. The fact is this whole issue is based in ignorance. Americans did not name themselves, the European powers did that. Long before the revolution European maps called the mostly unsettled area west of the colonies generically by the name America. The hodge-podge group of small colonies along this frontier were often referred to simply as the American colonies and the inhabitants generically as Americans. The colonists themselves preferred to be called New Yorkers, Virginians, Georgians etc.; something that continued until after the Civil War. If anything keeping the generic designation of American bestowed upon them by the European powers was an act of eminent practicality and humility, not arrogance.