What ever happened to American Exceptionalism? Remember that? America was going to be different, exceptional. The first to try a radical experiment in self-government. Who, the question was, is better fit to govern a people than those people themselves? No one! Government of the people, by the people, for the people!
What happened? Is it possible that the right turn we took thirty years ago was really a wrong turn? That despite the lies of the Vietnam War and the deceptions of Watergate, the way to Exceptionalism isn’t to kill government but to reform it?
The old way of government, before the rise of Liberalism (the real kind, not the Rush Limbaugh kind), was for the few to rule and the many to serve. The few owned all the land, the many worked it. The few had plenty, the many sometimes starved. The many paid taxes so the few could live in luxury. The many fought wars so the few might increase their wealth.
Then came The Enlightenment and the idea that all are equal, with equal rights to life, liberty and happiness. And a conservative movement to try to protect the old ways.
But ideas don’t die easily and Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson articulated these ideas in the new world and said, we can do this! And a new nation was born, “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
Now we are engaged in a great debate, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. At issue is whether we can survive as an exceptional nation while having the pursuit of individual self-interest as our raison d’etre.