Tag: Declaration of Independence

ON WOBBLING PLATES AND HAIL MARYS

Donald v HillaryThe real questions in this election are 1) who are we? And just as importantly, 2) who does the international community think we are?

The world is a beautiful, complex, yet at times, dangerous place.  Choosing a president to lead America in such times is a decision fraught with challenges. Problems facing the nation have numerous competing points of view, which lends a plate-spinner’s quality to building consensus. As such, except in those very rare moments like December 8, 1941, or 9/12/01, the nation never really achieves universal accord. There is always a plate or two that is wobbling.

Keeping it together
Keeping it together

But that was the framer’s vision, fearful as they were of arbitrary royal power. So the art of politics is not to produce one side with perfectly spinning plates while the other side’s crash to the floor, which was essentially the old feudal system. Instead, it is in managing to keep all the plates spinning as best you can so the set remains whole.

Though we are a nation of individuals, there is a shared ethic undergirding the American experience. So did the Founding Fathers “mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor” in signing the Declaration of Independence.

That pledge and declaration gave birth not only to the nation, but to the concept of American Exceptionalism, whose legacy has brought the country through the depths of a Civil War and the planet through the cataclysm of two world wars. It is not just the nation, then, but the world at large that has been guided by the even keel of this grand ship of state.

The risk that currently confronts us is not only what a particular candidate might say or do once in office, but also what others may say or do in response. (more…)

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MEMORIAL DAY 2016

 

Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery
Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, Saint Louis, Mo.

On this Memorial Day weekend 2016, a time when we honor those who sacrificed so that we might run free, we take note that Memorial Day observations are in decline, with fewer than 5 per cent of Americans typically attending a parade or visiting grave sites.  There may be many reasons for this including the dying off of The Greatest Generation, the men who fought in World War II, and whose families bore the burden of their dedication.  1800 WWII vets are dying every day.

But a corollary may be the make-up of our current, all-volunteer force, which consists of less than 0.5 percent of the overall American population, compared with more than 12 percent who served during World War II.

Just 16 years ago a Gallup poll showed that two-thirds of Americans knew exactly what Memorial Day was about.  Little over a decade later a 2011 survey found that 80 per cent of Americans confessed to having “little” or only “some” knowledge of the military holiday first known as Decoration Day.  When we further make note that Americans have increasingly lost confidence in any of the three branches of the government, perhaps it is time to ask, is this the America for which those many, many thousands gave their lives to protect and preserve? (more…)