“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
Over the course of the past year, this column has focused its analysis on policy matters or political malfeasance by both Democrats and Republicans.
We note the latter without apology. Democrats led by Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean have dealt treacherously with our military forces in the field, never missing an opportunity to rally them with rhetoric about “a war fought for a lie.” Republicans, for their part, have all too often abandoned their legacy as the party of constitutional government, buying into the notion that Washington holds the cure for all our nation’s ills. Indeed, a Republican-controlled Congress recently passed a budget that brought the increase in discretionary spending to 39 percent over the past three years, with overall spending topping $20,000 per household (constant dollars) for the first time ever, and they had the nerve to proclaim it “pork-free.”
President George W. Bush apparently believed them; how else to explain his signature?
As an advocate for federalism, constitutional constructionism, free-market capitalism and social conservatism, The Patriot has a duty to serve as a critical voice in defense of everything that’s good and right about America, which is to say, our focus is on the prize, while our content tackles those standing in its way. As we approach the end of the year, however, it seems appropriate to take a hiatus from the “critical” part of our mission and focus instead on what too many take for granted – the fact that we have the privilege to take the name “American.”
Herewith, we invite you to take a moment to consider what is good and right about our great nation.
John Stuart Mill once penned, “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. A man who has nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance at being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”
Perhaps the best thing about America in 2005 is those better men, serving on the frontlines of the war against Jihadistan, even as our more “miserable creatures” deride that service here at home.
Amid the political rancor about justifications for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, it is worth remembering the words of Admiral Jeremiah Denton: “It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.”
Hundreds of thousands of young Patriots in uniform, sworn to uphold our Constitution, serve in very inhospitable places that we may enjoy the peace and tranquility so many take for granted. Not only have they successfully held the warfront on Jihadi turf, but they are winning stability in the midst of chaos in the Middle East – stability that is well within the critical national-security interests of the United States. Contrast the joyful faces of millions of Iraqis citizens (no longer Saddam’s slaves) voting for their Parliament yesterday with those of American politicos protesting our policy in the region.
With so many of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coastguardsmen serving in danger far from home at Christmastime, we would ask each of you to enlist your friends and associates to join more than 145,000 other Patriots who have signed our Letter of thanks to America’s Armed Forces.
In tandem with our Armed Forces, we can be grateful for their Commander in Chief, who has both the understanding and the resolve required to keep a nation free and secure. In no small part thanks to the Bush Doctrine of Pre-emption, the United States has not suffered a terrorist attack on its own soil in more than four years – a circumstance all but unthinkable in the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001. Now, the President’s “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq” seeks to extend that condition by bringing security, stability and freedom to the heart of the Middle East.
Here at home, the nation’s soaring economy just logged its tenth straight quarter of three-percent-or-better growth. Inflation remains in check, and after-tax income, household net worth and total employment are all at record highs. Three consecutive years of substantive tax cuts have made America stronger and more competitive, and only the most hopeless of partisans can deny their effectiveness.
Equally important to America’s economic future, our bloated entitlement programs are finally receiving some much-needed scrutiny. In 2005, the President focused on Social Security reform and then courageously introduced the only possible solution to the problem: privatization. Likewise, steps taken to restructure Medicare on more market-oriented principles and private Health Savings Accounts that offer an alternative to traditional medical insurance hold promise for more real reform in the future.
Thanks to a growing commitment to free and fair markets, the U.S. is still leading the way in technology and innovation. People from around the world are still coming to American universities, first and foremost, for their education. Despite its pervasive liberalism and political correctness, our system of higher education is still the finest and most accessible of all: More than a third of Americans possess college degrees, while fewer than a quarter of Europeans do.
The American people reign as the most generous in the world, not only donating time and resources in their own neighborhoods, but also in disaster relief across the nation and around the globe. In spite of what we see on the nightly news, the vast majority of Americans are good-hearted, dedicated to their families and faithful to God. As Founding Father Benjamin Rush reminds us, all of what’s good and right about America is based upon “Christianity as the strong ground of republicanism.” The bedrock of that ground is the American family. Fortunately, most of them are still intact.
Finally, and most essentially, our 229-year-old experiment in democratic republicanism is still the freest, most opportunity-rich place in the history of the world. Indeed, the United States remains a bastion of the belief that Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are divinely bestowed inalienable rights, not “rights” granted by government.
As 2005 draws to a close, then, let each of us remember George Washington’s Farewell charge: “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.” May this be truer of us all in the year to come.
The Patriot will return to its police analysis and “critical” responsibilities next year, firm in our conviction that America’s greatness lies in her heritage and her people, and unabashed in our belief that her best days are yet to come.
(Editor’s note: We will publish our Christmas edition next Wednesday.)
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