Opinion piece submitted by Garrison Moratto
The unique power of America is its intangible magnetism that has drawn thinkers and refugees, poets and athletes, families and celebrities, the hopeless and the hope-filled, seeking the fulfillment of their dreams or the relief of their fears, coming from all over the globe for generations.
No other nation can lay claim to the hearts of millions like America has. The broken do not long from the corners of the earth with whispers of Germany, India or Australia. Their attention is not riveted by the elections of Brazil, nor the stock market of Canada. There is something so commonplace about America, yet there is a timeless sense about its every action.
Its story is the inverse of most of its contemporaries. While other states are founded already in motion seeking principles to justify their creation, America was founded in principles closer to perfection than any other of recent history, and has since then spent its centuries attempting to fulfill its founding promises. America’s glory is its principles, and at its best the nation shines forth from its basic founding ideals: the timeless notion that humanity can be trusted to be free under God if government was structured with its citizens as its leaders and the law above its politicians.
Like a seed planted at the beginning of its inception, the promises of America have prospered with time. It grew in spite of the historical odds which issued from the aristocratic circles of Europe with the pronouncement that had haunted every Republic before it: dead on arrival. The sapling found strength and purpose by expansion westward, where the Frontier forged the individualism of its core. The young tree was hardened in the fires of the Civil War that stripped away the molded bark of slavery with the heat of conflict, a baptism of fire that created a second independence. The tree branches grew to new heights in the Industrial Age, weathered the hurricanes of two World Wars and a nearly 43-year confrontation with communism, when the full beauty of America blossomed in opposition to all that stood in contrast, and freedom became valuable because it was so evidently polarized from the dehumanizing superstates of Marx.
Now America stands in a new age; one of technological marvels and sinister terror, one marked by rivals small and great, and rhetoric, always present yet always dangerous, granted new life by the fuel of social media and partisanship.
Do you remember we are part of it? The history. The “last best hope of man on earth.” The ship whose fate longfellow declared humanity watched breathlessly for fear it might perish, and with it the noblest experiment of governance ever attempted. We are part of the story.
Where are the leaders who remind us of this? Where are the guides who remember that the future is forged on the bedrock of the past, and that no party or personality has ever won or lost America, save when its God-given principles of freedom were forgotten.
The world is groping in the dark for a light, a compass, some indication that the present era is not merely doomed to dysfunctional partisan gridlock on the one hand and lifeless European socialism on the other. Only America can model the dignity of mankind, the assertion that citizens are not government project recipients, they are not abjectly desperate creatures who need only to be held by the hand and shown the “light” of bureaucratic provision. We are intrinsic beings, endowed by our Creator with rights that have existed before politics, and the goal of our government should be the cultivation of an environment where every man and woman can thrive as God intended them, where the hand of help is given as a step to opportunity and not a cuff of bondage, where the promise of America works for all people, regardless of background or privilege, and where success is celebrated and encouraged to replicate to the benefit of others rather than be suppressed in the name of forcibly redistributed prosperity.
America has the principles to face the future, it always has. What is necessary now is the will to lead by them.
Garrison Moratto is a graduate student at Liberty University, a member of Chatham House, APSA, and Heritage Foundation, and is author of The New Diplomatist blog and host of the podcast.