Progressives and American Exceptionalism

John P. Warren
|
Posted: Sep 09, 2017 1:45 PM
Progressives and American Exceptionalism

Over the past ten years, progressives have increasingly decried the notion of American exceptionalism, though for many, our exceptionalism has been well understood since the Revolution.

In his first Inaugural Address, at the very dawning of our republic, George Washington said it well, on April 30, 1789: “No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.”

So opens Michael Medved’s, The American Miracle (2016), which lays out, resplendently, the manifold miracles blessing the evolution of our national character, and with it, the tuning of our moral compass. Medved’s elegantly researched work gives further credence to the tenor of my most recent two pieces in this space, Progressivism’s Problem—The Price (8/3/17) and Gimme that ‘Ol Time Religion? (9/2/17), and so, I commend it to any reader thirsting for affirmation of our national endeavor.

Imagining the power of Washington’s words upon his listeners then is hard today. Many of them had survived a month-long sail to be an American, or survived the frontier in which they cleared fields and built cabins, or survived a revolutionary war, at which every turn, defeat seemed inevitable. All of them gloried in the documents certifying our nativity: The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

By the time the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791, nearly 4 million people called themselves Americans, and could revel in yet another miracle for every person who’d lived under a tyrant. Wondrous were the rights men granted themselves, but they did not extend to women, native Americans, and slaves, all of whom had sweat equity in our national home.

Those imperfections are key to our continual search for true north beneath all the stars of good and evil. Those who forced our birth in 1776, carried with them bigotry and brutality, class and criminality. Yet, propelled as they were by a natural law embedded within them by an Almighty God, they struggled toward that more perfect union we still seek today.

Progressives do not see it that way, however. For them, it all gets down to one and only one principle for them: Government or God.

To make their world a reality, they must topple God, his Commandments, and the natural law undergirding our social mores. Slowly, surely, they have lured us from the pews into a segmented milieu where an hour of weekly worship is erased in favor self-absorption. Would that Sunday morning’s runners, ball-players, video games players, and social media mavens remember our dependence upon Him who gave us life, and act like it! Ironically, progressives have made self the current god in order to force their common good upon us all when disunity so fragments us we crave their solution to chaos.

It helps the progressive drive to topple those, too, who have been our heroes, especially when those icons were firm believers in a Divine Providence, even when disastrous personas, such as Harvey and Irma, have visited their horrors upon us.

Most of us understand the likes of Washington and Jefferson were far from perfect in perceiving the better direction pointing in their compasses. The same was true of Andrew Jackson in his treatment of the Indians, yet no one thought so as he won the highly improbable—some say, miraculous—victory at New Orleans at the close of that war. It was true of Lincoln—a most unlikely national savior, who struggled with the issue of true racial parity with whites, yet knew the nation could “not long endure” with slavery as its fatal disease. That he survived our “fearful trip” only to die, as Jefferson and Adams did, at a propitious moment in time, was in itself, “a token of some providential agency.”  

As progressives strive to tear down icons of national greatness, they condemn them for their lack of moral perfection, and grant themselves liberties with notions truth and justice, while their compass needles wobble far from those certitudes given us by the Almighty. Progressives can’t have an Almighty God in the picture, we must understand, because in their view of things, it’s the state that is all-powerful, is the grantor of goodies, the bestower of bennies, the all-wise central planner for their vision of the common good: control of climate, personal freedoms (speech, assembly, religion, the media, and the right to bear arms), family size, health care mandates, wages, and when full power is achieved, the optimum age of individual departure.

Lincoln knew the present also foretold the future: “Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land are still competent to adjust in the best way all our present difficulty.”

One should think Lincoln’s use of the word, Christianity, was his own reference to one Almighty God, but more important, his words speak to the ages when he talks about “all our present difficulty.” Then, it was the Civil War to come. Later, it might have referred to the struggle for racial and women’s rights, to the horrors of two global conflicts, to the evils of communism, or to 8th Century religious adherents who seek to slaughter non-believers. Too, our present difficulty is the disunity threatening to engulf us, and the Alt-State—media, academia, Hollywood elites—marches lockstep together in this venture.

Progressives seek only the power to shape our world. For others of us, there is only one Power, our world has been gifted to us, and we must take time to acknowledge the Hand that guides it.