Happy birthday to America

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One of the few things Americans can agree on these days–conservatives or liberals, Republicans or Democrats, Trump supporters or Trump resisters–is that our government is highly dysfunctional.  Whether you believe we need to drain the swamp or turn the rascals out, you may well be sick of Washington, D.C., and all that it has become.

But the government is not America.  As bad as things can get among our leaders, our country keeps plugging along.  A free society is not totally dependent on government.  Our customs, our history, our ideals, our land, and our people define our nation.

Yes, we need to fix our government and maybe that is starting to happen.  But we also need to make sure it doesn’t get too big and too effective, less it encroach upon its citizens’ independence.  So happy Independence Day!

Our government was born on June 21, 1788, when the Constitution was ratified.  But the United States of America began on July 4, 1776.  That’s a distinction worth keeping in mind.  So happy birthday, America!

The American history wars

Back in 1994, Lynne Cheney, former head of the National Endowment for the Humanities, published a piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled The End of History, criticizing educational standards for American History.  Now she has published The End of History, Part II, about the new Advance Placement American History exam.  See excerpts after the jump and consider the points I raise. [Read more…]

How exceptional is America?

Russian strongman Vladimir Putin has been scolding Americans for thinking our country is exceptional.  Robert Samuelson takes up the question of American exceptionalism and, without being triumphalist about it,  highlights some distinctive qualities of the American mind. [Read more…]

The Immodest Republic

My colleague Mark Mitchell has co-edited a new book entitled  The Culture of Immodesty in American Life and Politics: The Modest Republic.  It’s not just about women’s fashions.  From the description at Amazon:

The Culture of Immodesty in American Life and Politics is a collection of thirteen essays from a broad range of scholars and independent authors, evaluating the prevalence of immodesty in various aspects of American life and culture. Contributors diagnose immodesty through the lens of corporations that are ‘too big to fail,’ consumption inspired by excessive greed, art and fashion that lack beauty and taste, government budgets resulting in perennial deficits, and foreign policy that meddle in the affairs of other nations. Going beyond mere diagnosis of societal ills, The Culture of Immodesty in American Life and Politics provides a prescription for cultural impropriety: promoting a framework for the rejection of immodesty and greed in contemporary life.

[Read more…]