"In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle: There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, ‘I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.’ To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: ‘If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.’" — G.K. Chesterton
We hear a great deal about how America needs to be "changed" by people who don't seem to know America's history, understand our country's uniqueness, or appreciate how good we've had it as a people. Until you understand what made America a great nation to begin with, you have no business suggesting any changes to the policies, tradition, and culture that made us so uniquely successful. It's not an accident that America became a great power. It's because of these seven reasons.
1) Judeo-Christian Ethics: When people call America a "Christian nation," they're referring to the Judeo-Christian morals that shaped our country. Our strong sense of right and wrong kept corruption to a minimum, our Protestant work ethic caused Americans to be productive, and our belief in rights given by God, not government shaped our national philosophy. Respect for Christian values is a part of the fabric of our country that goes right back to our founding. Even if many people wouldn't realize it until it is too late, an America where Christianity isn't an important part of everyday life would no longer be America in any meaningful sense.
2) A Powerful Military: There's a lot to be said for "soft power," but it pales in comparison to raw military might. The United States was not always a great military power, but once the Civil War was over, we started to assert ourselves. Since WWII, we've had the finest military on Planet Earth. That one factor does more to insure our freedom and the safety of our allies than every other factor combined. As Reagan said, "History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap." At least for now, no nation could be so foolish as to believe that a potential fight with the United States would be cheap.
3) Western Culture: If the entire population of Venezuela, Iran, or South Africa were here in the United States and all of us were gone, this country would quickly turn into a pesthole, just like all of those nations because they're culturally inferior to us. On the other hand, Western culture has produced ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, Britain, the United States and a host of lesser nations that are still more successful than 90% of the planet. The emphasis in Western culture on individualism, innovation, Christianity, capitalism, science, technology, freedom and individual rights has given us an enormous advantage that we are sadly eroding with our foolish embrace of multi-culturalism.
4) Geography: We can't underestimate the importance of being a large, resource-rich nation that's isolated from powerful foes. Had Britain been considerably closer, it's possible that we may have been unable to break away and take control of our own destiny. If we had powerful adversaries to our North and South, we may have had great difficulties when our nation was young and we were just finding our strength. If we had been closer to Europe, our homeland might have been decimated during WWI and WWII. If God had given us first choice of places to found a nation, this is where we would have ended up.
5) Industrial Capacity: Economically, America managed to take full advantage of the Industrial Revolution and most people still don't realize how important our ability to churn out material was to winning WWII. Just to give you one of many examples,
"By 1944 America built 96,300 planes, more planes than were possessed by the Axis combined and this does not include British and Soviet production. The Germans built 40,000 war planes in 1944, but the arrival of P51 Mustangs in the skies over Germany resulted in the destruction of the Luftwaffe. And American production was 75 percent combat aircraft.....This was the peak of production, an incredible 11 planes an hour were rolling out of American aircraft plants."
We lack this capacity today and make up for our inability to mass produce weaponry by creating high quality war machines. This is a potentially dangerous strategy because if a large chunk of our superior weaponry were ever destroyed somehow, it would take us an inordinately long time to rebuild it.
6) A Merit-Based Society: America's lack of an aristocracy, tribes, and castes helped allow the cream to rise to the top in our society. Although we certainly weren't perfect in this regard as any slave or woman throughout most of our history could tell you, we were well ahead of much of the rest of the world. The fact that we're still regarded by the rest of the world as a "land of opportunity" is one of our greatest strengths, although our antiquated immigration system does little to take advantage of this fact. The more we penalize success as a society, the more stratified, stagnant and sterile we'll become as a country.
7) A Constitution That Limited Centralized Government: Nothing could be more fundamentally American than a deep and abiding distrust of government. That's why the Constitution was specifically designed to keep our own government from oppressing the people. This contributed mightily to our success because the bigger and more powerful the government becomes, the smaller, weaker and poorer the people become. Our Founding Fathers understood this and were fanatical about small, decentralized government. The further we move from that principle, the more economic stagnation, frightening levels of debt, and potentially dangerous tyranny we'll see from our own government.
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