Conservative commentary: Is America exceptional? |

Conservative commentary: Is America exceptional?

Gary Hofmeister

— Nearly 20 years ago, a friend of mine initiated a new graduate school of Diplomacy and Statecraft in Washington, D.C., with the premise that it was necessary to understand the “American Experiment” in depth or citizens would see no reason to expend time, energy and even blood to defend it. Implicit was the recognition that our educational system had pretty much failed us in this task. Years of political correctness have minimized hard knowledge and individual responsibility. These have been replaced by multiculturalism, which essentially proclaims that all societies and cultures are equal to or perhaps even superior to our own.

Is it true?

With the recent meltdown in the financial markets and antipathy against the Iraq war (one insisting on winning and one on losing), it seems a legitimate time to do some serious soul-searching for our national direction. Furthermore, the upcoming election offers a dichotomy not seen before: We either take these tough times in stride by resisting the impulse to panic by drawing on our knowledge of fluctuating markets to keep the system in place, or we opt to re-impose drastic regulations and policies which could choke the economy for years to come. Which way, America?

Some simple historical research will show that our free enterprise system has suffered dramatic downturns sporadically with the markets reaching new highs each and every time in the aftermath. Although painful, we need to return to basics and not “throw the baby out with the bathwater.” Any objective analysis shows that no country even comes close to America in creating prosperity. There’s a reason for that.

Everything in Barack Obama’s background points to a belief system at odds with our history of economic freedom and America as a one-of-a-kind nation. So before voting this Tuesday, it might be wise to keep certain thoughts in mind:

– Americans believe in two kinds of freedom being intertwined inexorably: economic and political. Although countries such as China are attempting to allow the former without the latter, this would be completely unacceptable to Americans. But the opposite also is true. Limiting our economic freedom to Third World or even European standards would be anathema to most Americans.

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– Although we generally separate taxes from notions of liberty, we tend to forget the prime impetus for the American Revolution was taxes. Simply put, the more of our hard-earned money we give to the government, the less freedom we have. They make the decision how to spend it, we don’t. So the obvious question is: Who spends it better?

– Similarly, we know that British attempts to confiscate arms in Massachusetts in 1775 are what led to the “shot heard ’round the world.” The battle for gun rights is as old as our country.

– No one doubts that reasonable regulation of certain industries such as banks and the financial markets is necessary. The question is always one of degree. It’s crucial to note that presently and historically, unbridled capitalism was seldom the culprit in financial panics. Rather, the combination of government and business monopolies has caused the greatest damage. Case in point: Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae structured as private profit, public liability and then propped up with connections and campaign contributions. And we’re shocked this came crashing down?

Sen. Obama has given every indication that his idea of “change” for America is a combination of European socialism and limiting individual freedoms. He proclaims himself a “citizen of the world” trumping just being a proud American. He has refused to salute the flag and deemed wearing a flag pin insulting to our enemies. Change? Not this kind.