Posted by: Debby Durkee | December 30, 2010

We are Americans.

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We are Americans.

Two of my favorite writers/pundits have penned some closing remarks for the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011. Both Tony Blankley and Victor Davis Hanson give wonderful perspectives of the American spirit that will continue to sustain the country through its difficulties. We must, even through the gloom and doom, remember who we are.  Just as Ronald Reagan said 30 years ago at his Inaugural Address in 1981, “The crisis we are facing today does not require of us the kind of sacrifice that Martin Treptow and so many thousands of others were called upon to make (during World War I). It does require, however, our best effort and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds, to believe that together with God’s help we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us. And after all, why shouldn’t we believe that? We are Americans.”

The American Miracle.

Tony Blankley was born in England, but has been an American citizen for many years. He worked in the Reagan White House and was Newt Gingrich’s press secretary. He believes in the country and conservative values. This column serves as a great reminder of who we are.

A few years ago, I was in China and, through the help of a friend, had the chance to spend a few hours with a senior editor of the People’s Daily –the Communist Party’s voice, and the most influential journal in China.

The highly intelligent editor — himself, of course, a senior party man — was cool and dispassionate until we came to a discussion of the causes of revolutions. On that topic, he displayed an almost scholarly knowledge and focused in — with great passion and concern — on the dominant role that rising expectations of the people plays in starting a revolution.

He discussed with particular knowledge a study of the French Revolution — noting the provinces and towns that were hotbeds of revolutionary fervor were also areas that had seen the most prosperity recently before.

For China, their hopes for expanding prosperity require them to bring the hundreds of millions of peasants in the interior of the country into the prosperity of China’s coastal industrial zone. While they were making progress with that, it came “at the price,” he said, of raising the expectations of those three quarter of a billion peasants.

If the Chinese government can’t keep meeting those expectations (probably requiring at least 7 percent-8 percent growth per year), rebellion or revolution could erupt. He went on to observe that truly hopeless people don’t dream and plan for the future — and don’t revolt. Snip –

…for America, a democracy (technically, a constitutional republic), an optimistic public with faith in our future is an essential strength — and something to nurture and celebrate.

When a democratic public loses faith in the future — as France did in the 1930s, as Britain did in the 1970s, and as too many Americans have today — it is something to promptly correct, not secretly rejoice in. Optimism is a source of our strength.  Snip –

…Americans have solid political grounds for swelling with optimism as we end 2010.

For me, the miracle of the American spirit began to reveal itself in the late spring of 2009. We were still in the midst of an economic meltdown. Our homes and 401(k)s were (and for many of us still are) shockingly reduced in value.

Many of us had lost our jobs or had our incomes substantially reduced…the newly inaugurated president, in the early weeks of February, had talked about our economic collapse being a catastrophe from which we might never recover.

…President Obama started applying the typical remedies: bailouts, nationalizations, trillion-dollar stimulus — spreading the wing of the state to “protect” the helpless people.

And then the American miracle occurred; not in Washington, but in the hearts and heads of the American people. The polls started to show that the American people wanted Washington to do less, not more. They didn’t want to be sheltered under the wing of the state.

The American people feared the permanent loss of liberty more than they feared the temporary loss of their income or property.

The tea parties self-formed without leadership from above. But millions of people who didn’t join the tea parties nonetheless endorsed their sentiments and values — so that by last month, polls showed that the tea parties were more identified with than the Republican Party, which itself had just won the greatest election victory in well over half a century.

No other people in the world would have responded to economic danger by seeking more liberty and less government protection.

No other people would have thought to themselves, “If I have to suffer economically in order not to steal from my grandchildren, so be it.” Snip –

He goes on to say you only have to look at the riots in Greece, France, Ireland and England to see what happens to a people who lose faith in themselves, in their own abilities, their culture, and in God – all brought on by the dependence on the nanny state.

I believe that 2011 will reveal an American people who will go into the streets not with violence to protest government spending cuts — but in peace and discipline to protest any failure by their government to make such cuts.

So in this Christmas season, as many of us prepare to fall to our knees in thanks for the gift of our eternal optimism and salvation, let us also celebrate the continuing miracle of the American people’s abiding love of liberty — and acceptance of the sacrifices it will take to keep that liberty.

It is good to remember the history of our country, the ingrained culture of freedom and independence. That culture is still there. Some might be a bit removed from it, but regardless of how some of our children might be influenced by an Obama or some other siren call, they have that spirit of independence because of the freedom they have grown up in and the expectation that it will continue. If they see their own parents fighting for it, they will remember it, even if they aren’t involved or, in their own unspoken optimism, shake their heads at their parents’ passion. Read all of Blankley here:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/12/22/the_american_miralce_108319.html

Here’s the entirety of Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural address: http://www.ronaldreagan.com/sp_27.html

America’s 21st Century.

One of my favorite sayings is “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.” That’s the gist of this excellent column from Victor Davis Hanson. He said Americans have been through other times in our recent and not so recent past that have left us fearful of losing our edge in the world. He said the United States still has something special that other countries don’t: a foundation of stability, individuality and the history of our Constitution. His historical view is always needed in our society which is increasingly inattentive to history.

The current debt, recession, wars and political infighting have depressed Americans into thinking they soon will be supplanted by more vigorous rivals abroad. Yet this is an American fear as old as it is improbable.

In the 1930s, the Great Depression supposedly marked the end of freewheeling American capitalism. The 1950s were caricatured as a period of mindless American conformity, McCarthyism and obsequious company men.

By the late 1960s, the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., along with the Vietnam War, had prompted a hippie counterculture that purportedly was going to replace a toxic American establishment. Oil shocks, gas lines, Watergate and new rust belts were said to be symptomatic of a post-industrial, has-been America of the 1970s. Snip –

In the late 1940s, with the rise of a postwar Soviet Union that had crushed Hitler’s Wehrmacht on the eastern front during World War II, communism promised a New Man as it swept through Eastern Europe.

Mao Zedong took power in China and inspired communist revolutions from North Korea to Cuba. Statist central planning was going to replace the unfairness and inefficiency of Western-style capitalism. Yet just a half-century later, communism had either imploded or had been superseded in most of the world.  Snip —

We were told in the 1980’s that Japan’s state capitalism was the way to go, at least until it imploded in the 1990’s and the country has never really made a comeback. Japan emphasized the group rather than the individual. Then, Americans were told that the European way was the wave of future for Western countries as they developed into a European Union and created their own currency while continuing with their welfare state and relying on our country for defense.

Now Europe limps from crisis to crisis. Its undemocratic union, when coupled with socialist entitlements, is proving unsustainable. Symptoms of the ossified European system appear in everything from a shrinking population and a growing atheism to an inability to integrate Muslim immigrants or field a credible military.

Hanson, too, mentions the rise of China, but reminds that “China’s mounting social tensions, mercantilism, environmental degradation and state bosses belong more to a 19th than 21st century nation.”

Two symptoms of all this doom and gloom are constant over the decades. First, America typically goes through periodic bouts of neurotic self-doubt, only to wake up and snap out of it. Indeed, indebted Americans are already bracing for fiscal restraint and parsimony as an antidote to past profligacy.

Second, decline is relative and does not occur in a vacuum. As Western economic and scientific values ripple out from Europe and the United States, it is understandable that developing countries like China, India or Brazil can catapult right into the 21st century. But that said, national strength is still found in the underlying hardiness of the patient — its demography, culture and institutions — rather than occasional symptoms of ill health. Snip —

Hanson goes on to say that America still assimilates foreigners better than Europe, Russia, China or Japan. The Islamic world still lives in the distant past when it comes to religious freedom and women’s rights. We have something of great value here that has been time-tested for 223 years – the United States Constitution.

…In contrast, China, the European Union, India, Japan, Russia and South Korea do not have constitutional pedigrees of much more than 60 years. The last time Americans killed each other in large numbers was nearly a century and a half ago; most of our rivals have seen millions of their own destroyed in civil strife and internecine warring just this century.

In short, a nation’s health is not gauged by bouts of recession and self-doubt, but by its time-honored political, economic, military and social foundations. A temporarily ill-seeming America is nevertheless still growing, stable, multiethnic, transparent, individualistic, self-critical and meritocratic; almost all of its apparently healthy rivals in fact are not.

So, let’s begin the New Year with a solid optimism coupled with the resolve which only an independent and individualistic people can truly muster. We, as a nation and as a people, will defeat those who would drag us down because we know we have something special in this country, and we will not let it go down without a fight. As Tiny Tim might say, “God bless us everyone.” And, God bless the United States of America. Please read all of Hanson here: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/12/30/the_american_21st_century_108384.html

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