The United States has lost America. Our aim no longer points towards that American ideal, hinted at by slaveholding founders and expanded by each generation since, that all men are created equal, endowed at their creation with certain unalienable rights. We no longer look to first principles to guide our actions. If we cannot recapture that gaze towards the horizon, then America’s days are more numbered than anyone suspects.
I hope I can explain each of the above statements one-by-one, showing the desperation with which America must turn inwards and start asking big questions. What do I mean by my first?
The United States has lost America.
America is not the continent on which we live, nor the country of which we are citizens, but the heritage and destiny that binds us. Our country is fracturing into disparate pieces, separate societies, and we are losing our common path; each section pulls a different cardinal direction. The leaders of this country only pour scalding water onto old wounds to shore up their voters, but fray at America as they do so. Yes, the Constitution is the same, the states have not changed in half a century, so the United States is still here. But America? I cannot see where it is hiding.
The reticule of our aim no longer points towards that American ideal.
Our founders wrote that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. This is the American ideal. It began as a statement for rich, white and landowning men, but in the past 250 years has expanded to other sections of America. Formally, all Americans share the same rights, but few go out of their way to fight for the rights of others anymore. Now, we fight for our own individual rights. The plight of rural America is disregarded by some, the cruel lack of criminal rights for African-Americans by others. Until we learn once again to strive for each other and for all, the American ideal will stay hidden.
We no longer look to first principles to guide our actions.
Our politics have become so refined, we have forgotten the good practice guidelines of a civil society. Truth, tradition, decency, generosity of thought, the rule of constitutional law; these are discarded at a moment’s notice to gain an upper hand against “them.” Hillary Clinton focused on getting votes of minorities, the LGBT section and half a dozen other subcultures, while Donald Trump pandered to disheartened rural voters in a few key swing states; both Clinton and President Trump apparently forget that the president is first the servant of every American, not just those who voted for them. Without a return to principled political practice, the insanity will not stop.
If we cannot recapture that gaze toward the horizon, then America’s days are more numbered than anyone suspects.
The United States is going nowhere. Our economy is too large and we are too entrenched in our battle lines to quickly change our minds and hearts. But if we cannot open the fist of victory into a hand of camaraderie, not only to our friends, but to our rivals as well, then America is fading. What is left is a marginal husk, a long walk of shame to oblivion.