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Victor Post
  • BENJAMIN WACHS: Don't bet against America

  • Liberalism’s assertion in the late 20th century was that America had no answers and needed instead to look to other countries and cultures for solutions to its most pressing problems. ... In the 21st century, however, it is the conservatives who are betting against America — who see us in a period of unshakeable decline.

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  • In 1917 the leader of the Communist Party in America told Joseph Stalin that the United States was not fertile ground for the spread of international socialism.  Stalin replied by deriding the idea that there was some special “American Exceptionalism.”
    He was the first person ever to use that phrase.
    America has consistently proven just how wrong Stalin was.  We remain exceptional in many ways.
    America is an exception to the rule that a modern, technologically driven country will see its fertility rates drop.  Americans still have children.
    America is an exception to the rule that a modern, scientifically minded country will gradually lose its religion.  We are as religious a nation as ever – and we encompass far more kinds of religion than any other nation on earth.  For all the shouting on cable news, our citizens of different religions also live together in exceptional peace and harmony, proving it can be done.
    Americans work exceptionally hard, and are exceptionally comfortable taking risks.  We are an exceptionally dynamic people, far more open to change than most societies.
    Progressivism was the Doubting Thomas of American exceptionalism for the last 60 years. From institutional racism to free market economics, from environmental degradation to education, Liberalism’s assertion in the late 20th century was that America had no answers and needed instead to look to other countries and cultures for solutions to its most pressing problems.
    For all the good that liberalism did in the last half-century (the civil rights movement, social security, Medicare …) , they got this fundamentally wrong.  For all our faults –and none should be papered over – it has more often than not been the rest of the world that has looked to us for solutions.  Stalin’s statues fell, as have many tyrants during the era of American leadership, and for all that the last 10 years have seen us embark upon two profoundly tragic and wrongheaded wars, our soldiers stationed around the world still keep democracies safe in a way no other nation can.
    In the 21st century, however, it is the conservatives who are betting against America — who see us in a period of unshakeable decline.
    At a time when we have not only elected, but re-elected, a member of our most historically oppressed minority to be our chief executive … at a time when American military power remains unparalleled, when our economy has weathered a global downturn better than most, when we remain on the leading edge of technological innovation, when the dollar is seen as the safest investment on the planet, when our philosophy of government and principles of freedom are the dominant notions of government in the world … the standards by which all other governments are measured … the pundits of the Right claim we are falling into a irrevocable decline.  America’s over, they say.
    Page 2 of 2 - Why?
    Are we really worse off than we were during the Vietnam war and the turbulence of the 1960s?  During Watergate and the stagflation of the 1970s?  During the drug fueled crime waves of the 1980s? Are we really less safe than we were when thousands of nuclear warheads were aimed at us by a ruthless dictatorship that had promised to bury us?
    What’s so terrible about America in the 21st century?
    Our unemployment is high?  We had unemployment above 8 percent for periods in the 1970s and 1980s.
    Our national debt is Massive?   Not only has the debt apocalypse not come, the world is more hungry than ever for our government bonds.  Let it also be remembered:  conservatives made no apocalyptic predictions when President Bush added billions to the federal budget.
    Our schools are in decline?  I’m worried about that too, but the fact remains that much of the rest of the world – from Germany  to China – is looking at us as the example to follow, trying to make their schools more like the ones we have. No Child Left Behind has been a disaster, but the Harlem Children’s Zone and the KIPP schools and dozens of other experiments have been wild successes.  We can solve this.
    It’s not that we don’t have problems … oh do we have problems … but these are the kind of problems that our dynamic, exceptional, society has proven better at solving than anyone else.  Not only can we tackle them, but Americans are largely in support of a basic plan:  raise taxes on the wealthy, cut corporate loopholes, reinforce our basic social safety net, drop government programs that don’t work, and invest in the infrastructure (highways, ports, education and job training) the private sector needs access to to stay competitive.  It’s a good plan – and it’s overwhelmingly the one Americans just voted for.
    Our biggest problem is that right now we like to shoot ourselves in the foot.  Our petty political fights are a loaded gun aimed squarely at Uncle Sam’s toes.  If we stop pulling the trigger, the rest of our problems are very solveable.  We’ve got a track record.  Right now it’s the Progressives who are betting on it.
    Conservatism still has many good things to offer us, but in betting against America they are as fundamentally wrong today as liberals were last century.
    Benjamin Wachs writes for Messenger Post Media, and is the editor of Fiction365.com. Email him at Benjamin@Fiction365.com.
     
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