America: Her finest hour is yet to come

posted at 8:21 am on May 28, 2012 by J.E. Dyer

Did they die in vain?

As America remembers her honored dead this Memorial Day weekend – those who died in uniform defending our great cause of liberty – many hearts are troubled about what we have come to.  The idea of liberty on which our nation was founded seems to hang in tatters.  The genius of our forefathers in giving us a government that was to be limited, constitutional, and federal appears all but extinguished.  The indispensable ingredient of liberty, an independent people of good character, seems at times to be disappearing into a sorrowful sunset.

But I would like to suggest a few things about these discouraging fears.  First, I think the fear about the American people is overblown, because it is overhyped.  All we ever hear is bad news about the people.  Interestingly, however, in spite of our worsening economic situation and sense of political misdirection, America is still rumbling along:  her people still working and producing, still bearing children and raising them in families, still buying homes, still worshipping God as we see fit, and still paying taxes.  In spite of our mind-boggling, unparsable federal debt, there are thousands of safe, peaceful communities across America, in which the people live in diligence and hope.

The answer to why the nation continues to function lies with the people.  Government regulation does impose an increasingly onerous burden on us, of course.  Besides shutting down productivity entirely, in some cases, regulation makes everything cost more than it would otherwise, from our labor to real estate, and from automobiles to the price of milk, bread, and gasoline.  For several decades, debt was a relief valve for the rising cost of regulation, which eats away at the value of what we earn with productive work.  Now the regime of debt has largely shut down.

But Americans aren’t rioting in the streets over this.  We are tightening our belts, in order to get ourselves right with the future.  Don’t overlook the significance of this.  For every kid in the Occupy movement, there are hundreds his age finding whatever jobs are available and working hard, learning to be reliable employees and team players – and paying bills, saving money, and looking to what they can do about their own futures.  These young people, alongside their elders, are holding society together, with discipline and quiet, unheralded daily courage.

Don’t give up on Americans.  And don’t give up on liberty.  Regarding liberty, here is a lesson to commit to heart:  heavy-handed, dictatorial government never comes to take away the bad in people and their lives.  It comes to take away the good.

It is a fallacy of modern ignorance to think that no one had the idea, before about 1850, to make his fellows better by regulating and taxing them.  If that could be done, we would have been perfected long ago.  Governments have made that their rallying cry from the beginning of recorded history; overregulation and onerous taxation are always about “improving” the people and their conditions.  But what they actually do is sap the people’s initiative, productive instinct, and desire to live well, and do well by their fellow men, through knowing God.  No overweening government has ever ended up governing a hopeful, honest, productive people.

The good news is that America is the world’s example of what can be achieved by people who are not beholden to a god-like government.  America is not paralyzed today by the character of our people, the scarceness of our resources, or the terrors of our future.  America is paralyzed because our once-small government has grown on principles that are unworthy of us: invidious principles of despair, anger, resentment, and fear.  Because we are law-abiding and peaceable, our governments – too often vengeful and narrow-minded – hold us back.

Ronald Reagan said it repeatedly, and said it best:  Government is the problem.  I am not afraid of what the American people will do if we regain the liberties that are rightly ours.  I eagerly await the explosion of creativity and prosperity that will ensue.  We can produce, pay down, and manage our way out of the $100-trillion “entitlements bomb,” without penalizing the vulnerable.  And we do not have to be poor for generations in order to deal with it; in fact, we can’t be.  It won’t work.  We will deal with it only by regaining the prosperity and wealth that lie beyond the obstacles of the overregulatory state.  We can’t do this by staying on our current course, but if we change course, we will prove that history is not a death sentence for liberty.

Is Mitt Romney the person to lead us toward a different future?  I think he would give us a hiatus from the perils with which we are now on a collision course.  A president who would allow government to retain its current size and scope is not the reformer we will ultimately need; but the breathing space Romney could give us is indispensable.

I believe more and more Americans are seeing what those with wise foresight predicted as much as a century ago:  that when we give government greater power, someone will come along and use it in ways we did not intend.  Perhaps our slide into overweening statism has been necessary to teach a lesson to those who haven’t bothered to learn from history.  But there’s more good news in this regard:  we can learn the lesson and move forward.  Nothing compels us to spend time on backward-looking self-flagellation.  Lessons, yes.  Regret, no.

The beauty of restoring the unique American idea in our politics and common beliefs is that it inherently means moving forward.  In the last 80 years, America has been moving in fits and starts into the world’s past.  Over-governance and an institutionalized lack of confidence in the people are the past, as old as the pyramids but not nearly as interesting.  Any fool can proclaim – and often has – that the folks around him need more governing; history is largely an account of what happens next.  There is no impulse more common or banal than seeking to regulate and tax our fellows for “their own good.”

But the American idea is unique in setting explicit boundaries on that impulse.  Moving toward the American idea is always moving away from men’s overgoverned past and toward a better future.

A minority of American colonists was committed to the fight for independence – but they prevailed.  I don’t believe that the segment of today’s committed Americans is any smaller.  The only thing that can stop America from beating the odds now, as she has always done, is a loss of will by those who believe in her.

If history were a death sentence, America would never have been born.  If the past dictated the future, the light of liberty would have been shrouded in darkness some time ago; we who walk the land today would not even remember what it used to look like.

But we do.  Our nation did come into being; we not only ended slavery but we healed and thrived after our civil war; and as we survey the feckless wreckage of overgovernment strewn around us today, we can see that it is not the product of liberty, but of its opposite.  We can see the truth, and we have the great privilege of still being able to act on it.

Do not fear that Americans can’t do well with less government.  Something military officers learn early, if they are wise, is that you don’t control men: you believe in them.  And when you do, there is no limit to what they can accomplish.  The heroes who lie in our cemeteries, with the small flags waving bravely over them on Memorial Day, knew that.

I believe they did not die in vain.  Their spirit is with us now, carried in the hearts of those who knew and loved them, and the generations that have followed.  I believe we will honor them in the best way possible. We will beat the odds – again; we will give history something new to think about – again; and we will not sink in the mire but right ourselves, and trundle on toward firm ground and a bright future.

No nation has ever done this – but then, no other nation has been the United States of America.  When we do it, in peace, and for the world to see, it will indeed be our finest hour – and all the war dead whom we honor and thank today will be standing at our shoulders.

Let freedom ring.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at The Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, The Weekly Standard online, and her own blog, The Optimistic Conservative.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
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Where can I get a pair of those rose-colored glasses, Deanna?

Cleombrotus on May 29, 2012 at 7:57 AM

You don’t need them, just read your American history books. Oh, and get out and help make the changes. Have a nice day.

Deanna on May 29, 2012 at 8:36 AM

To say the Civi War was not worse is incredible…when 55000 men died at Gettysburg alone and families were destroyed. And yes there was moral decay after the Civil War, political corruption ran rampant, various ethnic groups were ostracized, the gap between rich and poor was woorse than today, all kinds of vices were prevalent. Geez read your history.

As for your claim that no group will change things, speak for yourself, because that’s obviously how you feel.

Deanna on May 29, 2012 at 8:33 AM

Those men died getting rid of slavery. Do you argue that slavery was the lesser of the moral problems? A clear Majority clearly chose the moral side. The gap between rich and poor is not a good measure of morality.

As for no group, it is simply a fact of today. Every, and I mean every large enough group has been brainwashed or cowed to tow the politically correct immorality line. Tell me what groups out there are actually working to change things? It sure the hell is not the paultard group, the romneybot groups, most of the conservative blogs have given up on stopping gay marriage and argue we should embrace the immorality for political gain instead, the Tea party thinks is all just a fiscal issue and morality has nothing to do with how people handle money, so tell me, what group should I be assisting in getting these changes made that will help turn America back around? Don’t forget that there are almost no conservatives out there that are even willing to argue things based on constitutionality anymore.

astonerii on May 29, 2012 at 8:44 AM

gryphon202 on May 29, 2012 at 8:04 AM

Pessimists allow the status quo, optimists activate change.

Deanna on May 29, 2012 at 8:34 AM

Then I think you and I differ on our opinions of what consistutes “pessimism” and “optimism.” Because I believe optimists are happy with the way things are (i.e. “the status quo”), while pessimists aren’t.

gryphon202 on May 29, 2012 at 8:49 AM

Those men died getting rid of slavery. Do you argue that slavery was the lesser of the moral problems? A clear Majority clearly chose the moral side. The gap between rich and poor is not a good measure of morality.

astonerii on May 29, 2012 at 8:44 AM

Actually slavery wasn’t the only issue, states’ rights were the primary reason. I never said slavery was the “lesser.” You claimed that somehow moral values didn’t deline or were good after the Civil War which is not true. And gaps in income have always created moral problems throughout history, it just is a fact not a promotion of sharing the wealth or anything. But you either know all of this and like to argue, or are so steeped in your beliefs as to ignore history. Have a nice day, I’m off to work.

Deanna on May 29, 2012 at 8:53 AM

Then I think you and I differ on our opinions of what consistutes “pessimism” and “optimism.” Because I believe optimists are happy with the way things are (i.e. “the status quo”), while pessimists aren’t.

gryphon202 on May 29, 2012 at 8:49 AM

Hmmm….think about it. Would a pessimist attempt to change anything? Why would they bother if this is how they feel…

pes·si·mism (ps-mzm)
n.
1. A tendency to stress the negative or unfavorable or to take the gloomiest possible view.
2. The doctrine or belief that this is the worst of all possible worlds and that all things ultimately tend toward evil.
3. The doctrine or belief that the evil in the world outweighs the good.http://www.thefreedictionary.com/pessimist

Have a nice day, I’m off to work.

Deanna on May 29, 2012 at 8:58 AM

pes·si·mism (ps-mzm)
n.
1. A tendency to stress the negative or unfavorable or to take the gloomiest possible view.
2. The doctrine or belief that this is the worst of all possible worlds and that all things ultimately tend toward evil.
3. The doctrine or belief that the evil in the world outweighs the good.http://www.thefreedictionary.com/pessimist
Have a nice day, I’m off to work.

Deanna on May 29, 2012 at 8:58 AM

I see nothing in that definition that denotes either a desire to change things or keep them the same, only that pessimists tend to stress the negative. On the other hand…

op·ti·mism   
noun
1.
a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome.
2.
the belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world.
3.
the belief that goodness pervades reality.
4.
the doctrine that the existing world is the best of all possible worlds.

Why would someone who believes that the existing world is the best of all possibile worlds, and that good ultimately predominates over evil, want to make an effort to change things? Hmm…

gryphon202 on May 29, 2012 at 9:02 AM

Actually slavery wasn’t the only issue, states’ rights were the primary reason. I never said slavery was the “lesser.” You claimed that somehow moral values didn’t deline or were good after the Civil War which is not true. And gaps in income have always created moral problems throughout history, it just is a fact not a promotion of sharing the wealth or anything. But you either know all of this and like to argue, or are so steeped in your beliefs as to ignore history. Have a nice day, I’m off to work.

Deanna on May 29, 2012 at 8:53 AM

Overall moral values did not significantly decline after the Civil War. Some few people took advantage of the situation, as happens in all power vacuums. Yeah, there were bad things, but on the whole, blighting out the moral degradation on the people that ownership of other humans beings was acceptable indicates a significant increase in over all morals for the nation as a whole. In the end, the blight that sprung up after the civil war was crushed by the morally good majority.

The Roaring 20s again, was not a society wide event, but an event that happened in the cities which were at the time a minority of the nation. Again, the morally good majority fully pushed back and did not accept those activities as acceptable. The 60s and free love was also pushed back against. But even with the push back, we never regained fully the morallity we had prior to. Now we have come to a point where the moral majority is no longer good. Too many are on the government dole and are unwilling to vote for someone that will take them off it. Too many are cowed into silence or even to the point of being willing to support immoral things to be seen as up to date with the culture. The moral good are no longer a solid majority in the whole of the nation. It bodes ill for the nation.

astonerii on May 29, 2012 at 9:23 AM

And the answer to that is what is has always been. For those who know the heart of God (mercy triumphs over Justice) to stand in the Gap and intercede for the people and the nation.

chemman on May 28, 2012 at 1:08 PM

Amen. The key to any idea of a future is that mercy triumphs over justice. If it didn’t, we would have only the regrets of the past.

Pessimists allow the status quo, optimists activate change.

Deanna on May 29, 2012 at 8:34 AM

Extremely well said, Deanna. The American colonies were teeming with cowardice and vice. For every good thing there was to talk about, there were a hundred bad things. Ignorant, faithless people, drunkards, louts, prostitutes, abused children. Religious strife. Poverty. Wife-beaters. Cheating spouses. Common-law unions littering the land with sniveling, ill-fed, uneducated children. Not to mention slavery in the southern colonies. It was terrible. Hardly anyone in the American colonies was wise and strong enough to deserve liberty. Only about 35% of them had the guts or desire to actively push for it, and plenty of them were virtue-challenged in various ways.

But America was birthed anyway. The faithfulness and courage of that 35% did the trick. And what do we remember now? The words of the leaders in the fight. We remember them as if they represented the hearts of all of the first “Americans.”

We can sit around and sorrow over the things that are wrong today, or we can move forward. To move forward, we have to see the way ahead — and for anyone to want to move forward, the way ahead has to look positive and promising. That isn’t stupid, it’s simple reality. The good news is that America’s history is on the side of promise. If we were like every other nation, we wouldn’t even exist. Nothing outside of us condemns us to an evil future. It is in our hands. We can lead, help, and persuade each other, or not. But either way, our actions decide what we will become.

J.E. Dyer on May 29, 2012 at 12:00 PM

J.E. Dyer on May 29, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Really J.E.? You really believe that? That the pessimist, who isn’t happy with the way things are, advocates for maintaining the status quo? Where ever did you get fed that line of complete and utter shit?

gryphon202 on May 29, 2012 at 5:25 PM

And “forward…” Where have I heard that before?

gryphon202 on May 29, 2012 at 5:27 PM

gryphon202 on May 29, 2012 at 5:25 PM

(And your earlier comments)

You (and others) seem to be conflating several different scales which are actually independent factors determining behavior.

Realism Idealism describes how well one’s beliefs accord with the facts.
Pessimism Optimism describes a psychological point-of-view about conditions.
Activism Passivism* describes a disposition to take action.

An individual may “reside” in one of eight “spaces”, depending on where that person’s beliefs fall on the three scales.

A Realist can take a dim view of things (Pessimism) or look on the bright side (Optimism); so can an Idealist. Not all Pessimists are Realists; not all Optimists are Idealists — but that is often the comment perception, and seems to be the one underlying much of the above conversation.**

The “spaces” that seem most relevant to the positions discussed in this thread seem to be these:
1. A realist who sees the problems, is willing to take action to change things, but doesn’t really quite believe it will actually succeed (is pessimistic about the outcome).
4. A realist who sees that change is needed, understands it will be difficult, but believes that action will be successful (is optimistic about the outcome).

It looks to me that you and Don L. and Cleombrotus, among others, are in group 1.
I think that J.E. is in group 4, along with myself and many others.

We don’t all have to think alike to work together.

*Yes, the word should be “passivity” but that doesn’t match the others.
**Pollyanna was actually an Optimistic Activist Realist – read the book.

AesopFan on May 29, 2012 at 6:26 PM

We don’t all have to think alike to work together.

AesopFan on May 29, 2012 at 6:26 PM

Thank you. I’d like to offer my sincere apologies for any feathers I may have ruffled in this thread, belonging to J.E. or anyone else.

gryphon202 on May 29, 2012 at 7:16 PM

J.E. Dyer on May 29, 2012 at 12:00 PM

We are not fighting a shooting war with an enemy that the other 65% can just be neutral and allow the 35% to be victorious over a group of enemies shipped in from weeks of travel away. Instead we are fighting a democratic process where it has already reached the tipping point where over 50% of the population receives goods and services from the other 50% and can simply continue to vote themselves more of another mans labors at will. They are buttressed by a non-insignificant number of retards who think that this redistribution is actually good for the economy and those it takes from as well as those it gives to. Due to the progressive nature of the taxes, the vast majority of the burden is placed on a small minority of the greatest producers, thereby leaving a large portion of the 50% of net producers neutral to approving of the wealth transfer. Add into that the elderly that demand to be cared for by other people’s children for the rest of their long now worthless and pathetic existences (for many of them anyways, who have now become total leeches on society having not saved anything for their own retirements and unwilling to continue working full time even though they are perfectly healthy enough to do so).

I am certain if the rules of engagement were similar today as they were when you claim that 35% won our freedom that we would again be victorious in refreshing the tree of liberty. Unfortunately 35% in a democracy is a worthless endeavor. You need 50%, we do not have it, and the method we are using to gain it is factually a self defeating strategy that the communists predicted would work and set out to making happen, and now many so called conservatives are advocating for.

Promoting gay special privileges is not going to gain us 50%, it is just going to drain another small portion of the 35% we have away and hand them over to those who will bring our nation down.

Our battlefield is in a democracy, it would be well to remember what 35% means in one of those. It means the majority is allowed to be a mob if it wants, and the others are nothing but pawns (slaves) to be taken advantage of.

astonerii on May 29, 2012 at 8:16 PM

Really J.E.? You really believe that? That the pessimist, who isn’t happy with the way things are, advocates for maintaining the status quo?

gryphon202 on May 29, 2012 at 5:25 PM

Of course not. The word Deanna used was “allows,” not “advocates for.”

But here’s my question for you. What am I supposed to do with an attitude that our problems are too great for recovery, and that because of all the stupid, ignorant, lazy, irredeemable people out there, we’re doomed? How does it help anyone or anything to adopt that attitude?

Everyone who wins has won every tough conflict over obvious obstacles. There is no such thing as winning the future because of a perfect present or past. We are where we are, at any given time or place. Nothing compels us to give up, or to magnify the problems over the assets and advantages.

We do have assets and advantages. I see them every day in the minds that express themselves at Hot Air. That’s how I know they extend across America; I also know we have them here even in darkest California.

We are NOT condemned by the problems of our past to an evil future. People are remarkably adaptable; what we need is a sort of reimmigration to the better America of less regulation and nanny statism. People came here from all over the world, to that better America, and overcame foreign pasts of mind-blowing subservience and stupidity. What signs our death warrant is not arguing that we can do it again, in the way that makes sense for today — it’s insisting that we can’t.

J.E. Dyer on May 30, 2012 at 12:37 PM

Comment pages: 1 2