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American Exceptionalism
read in Macedonian


We are now just over half-way through 2011, still staring down the barrel of a calendar, while 2012 and beyond rapidly approach us.  And it is the time-honored purview of pundits, writers and others to make predictions at various times of the year so at this half-way mark for 2011, let’s have a little chat about what has come and what is to be. 

Part I.  If you haven’t been connected to reality, it is a world gone mad.  Potential war between the Koreas, the rise of China and India, the coming default in Greece and general debt crisis in Europe (not to mention the USA), the debate over austerity vs. that very debt, terrorism, encroaching radical and otherwise Islam (and their Sharia law), draught, floods, tsunamis, earthquakes and other natural disasters, cultural and moral decline in the world, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, the so-called “Arab Spring,” Israel, Palestine and the Middle East in general and 1,001 more problems are rocking our planet.  And it will probably only get worse. 

How so?  Scottish philosopher Alexander Tytler wrote in 1780 “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship…” Sound familiar?  If you live in Europe or the US it should because it is happening here and now.  But the numbers are just so big and the concept so hard to get a handle on that it makes the whole thing ineffable, it gives us a headache and we just want to order another drink.  But once you do get a handle on it you begin to understand and you realize just how frightening it is.  Considering just how interconnected our globalized world is you know that it will take very little for the whole Ponzi scheme to come tumbling down.  It’s all about money and finance.  

Part II. On this side of the Atlantic in America, there has been much talk of late about “American exceptionalism” defined as the belief that the United States of America is very different, in many ways, from other nations, but different in a positive way.  Our friends on the left often deride those of us on the right who talk about this.  But I believe America is an exceptional country.  As American writer P. J. O’Rourke notes “Other countries are built upon battle, blood, nationality, culture, language and territory.  America is the exception.  Our foundation is pursuit of happiness.”  He makes a very valid and oft-over-looked point. No other country – in history – addresses this.  As he points out, the Magna Carta didn’t.  The French Revolution’s Declaration of the Rights of Man didn’t.  The failed EU constitution didn’t.  He does note that the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights states in Article 24 that “Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including…periodic holidays with pay.”  As O’Rourke sarcastically states (correctly), “Leave it to UN delegates to expect to be paid for their freedom.”   

Thomas Jefferson, author of the American Declaration of Independence, wrote “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.”  O’Rourke’s biggest point, in my opinion, on this unusual feature of America’s founding document (the Declaration) is that he equates “happiness” with the rule of law and private property rights.  America is an exceptional country because – at that time in 1776 when nothing like the US existed – we created a country based on the rule of law and private property rights where men and women could use their God-given potential to work hard, earn a living, enjoy the fruits of their labor and raise their families in a secure environment and….pursue happiness.   

The exceptionalism of these United States of America has brought about incalculable good not only to our shores, but to the rest of the world as well, which is why people are clamoring to get into America every year.  Despite our faults and problems – and we have many – the United States of America is still the last, best hope of mankind. Many people around the world – probably some in Macedonia too – cheer when something bad befalls America.  We know that many of our Muslim friends around the world despise us and there are still too many Communists and Socialists in the world who would relish the thought of America’s demise.  But God forbid that day when America is too weak or self-absorbed or broke or all three to project our values and worldview because at that point, a vacuum will then occur.  It will only be filled by what?  China?  Russia?  Hugo Chavez?  The EU?  Sharia law?  Pick your poison.  And have that drink.

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Jason Miko
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