I want you to stop and think about something for a second.
What exactly happened in the span of about 200 years that took us human beings from riding around in horse drawn carriages to walking on the moon?
“Progress!” You might say.
And yes, every age makes progress on the discoveries and innovations of the last. But when a society goes from a sort of humankind “status quo” (that is, that by and large humans lived, worked and died in much the same way as they had for thousands of years) to such heights never before seen—all in the span of just two centuries—wouldn’t something have to supercharge mankind for progress to take such an epic, unprecedented leap?
From one of my favorite books, The Five Thousand Year Leap, the introduction to which TheBlaze’s Glenn Beck wrote:
“The Jamestown settlers traveled in boats not much better than those that sailed the Nile. Their farm tools consisted of a shovel, stick plow and scythe— about the same as you could pick up at your local Baghdad Hardware and Feed back in 3000 BC … Transportation was by cart and oxen, and their medicine was more superstition than substance – and worst of all most of them died young.”
And then a group of pretty amazing individuals got together and signed the Declaration of Independence, fought a war and won their freedom, and set up an entirely new and different kind of government. From that point to present day, progress has been nothing short of miraculous.
“What’s 200 years in the history of the world? Nothing really — may be an average Chinese dynasty – it’s a blink. 200 years after the Constitution was signed, the great “noble experiment “of America’s Declaration of Independence and free enterprise economics had produced phenomenal results.
The United States started accumulating a fantastic list of technology, politics and economics never before witnessed in the history of human and. The spirit of freedom infected people all around the globe, free market economics unleashed creativity and brilliance in nations everywhere.”
You know the rest of the story. In just about 200 years, we went from the harpsichord to the iPod, from the outhouse to the flushing indoor toilet, from a months-long journey across the Atlantic to an eight hour plane ride. It’s really amazing when you think about it.
There’s got to be an X factor; a je nai se quois; a secret sauce; a magic bullet, right? Exactly.
Hang on to that for second—we’ll come back to this. We’ve got to talk about Donald Trump.
Believe me, I’ve had my doubts about the guy’s creds. Serious doubts.
My fears started to subside a little when I saw some of the people he was beginning to surround himself with, starting with Indiana Governor Mike Pence. My fears began to subside a little more when, shortly before the election, he released a very specific, very attractive contract with the American people—his promise of what he’d do in the first 100 days.
I became more convinced than ever that he was our best shot.
Against the odds, he won. And then all hell broke loose. Hollywood was apoplectic. Stars seethed and sobbed (literally) on social media. Supporters curled up in the fetal position. Some compared it to the voluntary election of Adolf Hitler. Parents began telling their children to fear their president-elect; teachers began telling their students that Donald Trump will send their LEGAL immigrant parents home. People talked about being scared to go to school. Riots took place in major cities across the country. Pro-Trump (or those thought to be) were beat up.
(Side-note: I remember my mom talking about how crazy the sixties were and how awful it was to live through them, and I always wondered what that must have been like. Apparently I’m getting my chance.)
These people believe that “Make America Great Again” is a call to return to the dark days of Jim Crow; to slavery and racial inequality; to chemical castration of homosexual men … or something.
(For the record, that last one’s based on the wildly inaccurate—and easily disproven—claim that Mike Pence is a violent, raving homophobic who supports “electric shock therapy” for gay people.)
Bull. Loads and loads of bull.
So let’s get back to that X Factor. To learn what will make America great again, we need to learn what made it great in the first place.
What took the Founders from quill pen to MacBook?
You see, up until our America's Founding, every society was ruled by the idea that rights came from the government. Everything—even your very life—was at the mercy of a ruler’s whim.
The Founders bucked that entire system. They believed that our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness came from our Creator, not man—which meant that those rights were non-negotiable. Your life is yours, you’ve got a freedom to live as you please (so long as you hurt no one), and you’ve got a right to your possessions.
That’s number 1: your rights come from God, not government—which means we’re all equal.
They recognized that in order to maintain a society on the basis of inalienable rights that come from God, religion would need to play a major role. No, they didn’t mandate (or want) a state church. While they established the country on the basis of Judeo-Christian values, they didn’t dictate a type of religion and even recognized some practiced no religion. Still, they made morality a cornerstone, because, as Cleon Skousen put it, “the sanctity of civil rights and property rights, as well as the obligation of citizens to support the Constitution in protecting their unalienable rights, were all based on these [Judeo-Christian] religious precepts.”
That’s number 2: the Constitution and this republic can only survive where God has a place.
They also bucked the idea that government was supposed to be a behemoth. It didn’t need to be if it wasn’t everyone’s everything. It could provide for the common defense of the states, so they made a strong military a priority—not to run around colonizing the world, but to instill peace through strength. They also realized that they’d have to put major checks and balances on government if it were to survive mankind’s nature. They left a vast majority of the decisions up to the individual states. Lastly, they recognized that government was supposed to answer to the people—not the other way around.
That’s number 3: government was supposed to have a limited purpose: to protect, not provide.
They recognized that man isn’t inherently good. In fact, we can be pretty darn selfish. So, they harnessed that selfishness by championing a free market system that would grow the economy, regardless of whether people were good and kind, or completely self-centered.
That’s number 4: true, free market is the best engine of prosperity ever devised.
And guess what happens when you set mankind free in a society that’s been set up to keep him free and prosperous?
A 5,000 Year Leap.
THAT, my friends, is American exceptionalism. Not the idea that American people are necessarily better than anyone else, but that our idea IS.
And we’ve fallen so far from it.
We’ve replaced ingenuity and individual responsibility with government, and we’ve paid for it with oppressive taxation. We’ve replaced our Bill of Rights with opinion and political posturing. We’ve replaced our free market with cronyism. We’ve replaced equal opportunity with equal outcome.
In short, we’ve reverted back to the old way– the way everyone else did it for thousands of years, idling in mediocrity and dwindling freedom.
Here’s the thing: America is not a man, a presidency or a party … We are indeed that utterly unique idea, an idea that Donald Trump seems to have based a vast majority of his plan on. Here’s to hoping he sticks to it.
And if that’s how America became great, we can certainly do it again. For everyone.
Mary Ramirez is a full-time writer, creator of www.afuturefree.com (a political commentary blog), and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show (TheBlaze Radio Network, M-F, 3-5. ET). She can be reached at: email@example.com; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree