"The name of American..."
"Citizens by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations." --George Washington
Taking stock of the year just past, and contemplating the new one, two recent poll headlines caught my attention. On 30 December, a report on a national poll was accompanied by the headline: "Americans Optimistic for 2007," and noted that 75 percent of respondents said 2006 was a good year for them, and 89 percent of Americans were optimistic about the coming year.
However, on 31 December, a report on a national poll was accompanied by the headline: "Americans See Doom, Gloom in 2007," and noted "Another terrorist attack, a warmer planet, death and destruction from a natural disaster. These are among Americans' grim predictions for the United States in 2007."
Now, we all know about the precision of polling -- but how could pollsters reach such dissimilar conclusions -- especially since both headlines were referencing the same poll?
It's all in the eye of the beholder, of course, and if I were a betting man, I would take odds that the editor who posted the second headline is a sullen Democrat, who has been reading too much of his/her own supercilious claptrap.
Sure, as a nation we face significant constitutional, political, social, economic and national-security challenges this year. But, as any student of history can attest, we have faced such challenges, to varying degrees, in every year since the ratification of our much-maligned Constitution.
Newsflash: We will face similar challenges in every year hereafter.
While some of those challenges are formidable, as regularly outlined in this column, none should divert our attention from the irrefutable fact that we are the most fortunate nation of people in the whole of world history.
Apparently, 89 percent of Americans have some sense of how fortunate we really are, but none of them are among the blathering class of Leftmedia talkingheads and reporters, those "useful idiots", who only seem able to discern what is wrong with America.
One litmus test for judging a nation's standing among other nations is to consider the ratio of immigration to emigration. Now, emigration threats from Leftist Hollywonk Illiterati not withstanding (oh, if only they would leave), the fact is that immigration dwarfs emigration by something in excess of 10/1 -- and for good reason.
America's standing as the freest nation on earth, and, consequently, the nation of greatest promise and opportunity, is unchallenged.
The plurality of fellow citizens who claim "the name of American," those who retain a strong sense of our national heritage, the sacrifices of our forefathers and the obligations of citizenship, count our blessings.
Indeed, those blessings are manifold.
In 1833, Justice Joseph Story wrote, "Let the American youth never forget, that they possess a noble inheritance, bought by the toils, and sufferings, and blood of their ancestors; and capacity, if wisely improved, and faithfully guarded, of transmitting to their latest posterity all the substantial blessings of life, the peaceful enjoyment of liberty, property, religion, and independence."
Today, 174 years hence, additional generations and countless American Patriots have left to us "a noble inheritance, bought by their toils, and sufferings, and blood..." They did so in defense of a sacred trust -- American liberty -- which is uniquely ours. That trust's Founders wrote eloquently about the necessary qualifications of their posterity, those charged with extending liberty to the next generation.
On each generation's obligation to the next, Thomas Jefferson wrote, "Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us."
Of our national character, Samuel Adams insisted, "[N]either the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt." Thomas Jefferson added, "It is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic in vigor. A degeneracy in these is a canker which soon eats to the heart of its laws and constitution."
Understanding that each generation would face its trials, Thomas Paine wrote, "I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death."
Knowing that liberty would not survive any generation which turned away from its Creator, James Madison wrote, "The belief in a God All Powerful wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the world and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources nor adapted with too much solicitude to the different characters and capacities impressed with it."
Thomas Jefferson queried, "Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever."
Regarding liberty in the context of our constitutional republic, James Wilson said, "Without liberty, law loses its nature and its name, and becomes oppression. Without law, liberty also loses its nature and its name, and becomes licentiousness."
On liberty beyond our Republic's borders, George Washington wrote, "It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn."
Indeed, today, American Patriots -- Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coastguardsmen -- in defense of our national interests, are promoting liberty's promise against what may prove to be its most formidable enemy yet. Dare not anyone take an ounce of their sacrifice, or that of generations before them, for granted.
In 1839, English novelist Edward Lytton wrote, "The pen is mightier than the sword," the implication being that written words have influenced history more than warfare. Long before Lytton's era, another author (circa 65 AD) wrote about the power of words in a book our Founder's relied most heavily upon.
The New Testament epistle to the Hebrews (4:12) notes, "The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword..."
Though the Leftmedia's contempt for our American heritage spews relentlessly through print and cable networks, and its influence on public opinion should not be underestimated, it is the enduring words of our Creator that have sustained American Patriots for generations.
Today, we are blessed with the sacred trust bequeathed to us by our Founders, and we must honor our obligations, continuing our tireless advocacy for individual liberty, the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary and the promotion of free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values.
These principles are the source of our prosperity, and, in Jefferson's words, "a gift of God."
Every day that we share the name "American" should be a day of thanksgiving, and we should not for one solitary second, amid the political rancor, lose sight of all that is good and right with our great nation.