Having the courage of one’s own conviction is a trait typically found in those who have moral clarity. In fact, I would argue that it is moral clarity that gives one the intestinal fortitude and intellectual drive to have such courage. To those who have such clarity, the world is viewed in far fewer shades of gray than the other side, whom I like to call the “grayscale relativists.” When I originally thought this through I included as grayscalers not just social liberals, but also collectivists of virtually every stripe. It was my view that the aforementioned list pretty well described all of “Old Europe”, the American Left and many within the US educational establishment (especially on university campuses and the ilk making up the various teachers unions across the nation). My thesis was (and still is) that all of these groups simply cannot bring themselves to admit what I believe to be an undeniable conclusion – the moral superiority of us, the USA.
Now that I have the hair on the back of your neck likely standing at attention, my point here is actually more subtle than one might think. By reference to ‘us, the USA” being morally superior I am referring to the enlightenment vision of the intellectuals among our Founding Fathers – the unique American idea, if you will. And, you ask, what is that idea? Well, it is rather simple but exceedingly profound. Moreover, it is in a state of utter disregard in the minds of the politicians (not to mention the masses) who are right now massing their political troops, sound bites, white papers, etc., at the borders of each and every “swing state.”
The idea to which I allude comes from the foundational ideas of Aristotle who, although having views on many issues different from the Enlightenment, provided broad basics such as the primacy of this world, the lawfulness of nature and the fact that we have the ability to understand it, the reality of the individual, the singular power of ones own mind (reason), and the value of intellectual development as a means (if not the means) to self-fulfillment. These profound ideas (and some other plainly Aristotelian notions) were never put to practical political use in Aristotle’s time but they nevertheless percolated in the minds of men who stood on Aristotle’s shoulders. One man, in particular, who took these profound Aristotelian ideals and put them to practical use was John Locke. Locke bequeathed them to the intellectuals amongst our Founding Fathers who indeed made good use of them, resulting in the American Revolution. Without the philosophy of the Enlightenment and the minds to create the abstraction from the Aristotelian concretes no revolution would have, or could have, succeeded.
Specifically, the unique American idea as originally conceived, and to which I argue is morally superior to anything ever implemented socially in the world to date, is the fundamental challenge to the primitive idea that the state be regarded, either explicitly or implied, as the ruler over the individual, a sovereign authority (God granted or not). The Founders unique American idea was the opposite: the primacy and sovereignty of the individual. It is implicit in our founding documents, particularly The Declaration of Independence, which states that the individual precedes any group or institution of government and that each man possesses certain individual rights: “that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” This, then, is the unique American idea. It is profound, previously unknown in any political/social context, and is precisely what led to the advancement and material well-being of the citizens of this country through the one and only economic system capable of supporting such a notion of individual rights and liberty – capitalism. And the more free market oriented our economy, the better the standard of living for all the participants, and the greater are the odds that this unique idea will survive.
So, the question then becomes if you do not believe in the moral superiority of what our founding fathers created, and that to which The Constitution refers as a “more perfect union” then, by default, you must believe that either something else is morally superior, or you are amoral. Which is it Mr. Obama? Mr. McCain? Please, enlighten all of us to the better philosophy, the one not tried to date in this world; the politic which makes individual freedom and liberty subservient to the state, or to God, or to you. Moreover, if this is your world view your system of making judgments and decisions sees capitalism as questionable (evil), private property rights as inconvenient (unfair or unnecessary) to the aims of the state, liberty and freedom as quaint notions of a by-gone era, the United States Declaration of Independence as a document written by misguided racist slave drivers, incremental “progressive” confiscation of wealth from the producers to the non-producers of society as somehow “fair” and moral, thus making true benevolence impossible by design.
We grew as a great country because of the only social/economic system-capitalism-that answers ‘yes’ to the question of whether or not man is truly free. The divide between it and its antithesis is as profound as the staggering growth and success we have achieved in a short 232 years and is further reflected in the people who have died trying to come to our shores to find freedom. Incredibly, we now have here in America two presidential candidates who either overtly mock it (Obama), or acquiesce (in the case of Mr. McCain) as political expediency to its antithesis (collectivism). I have a great degree of respect for what Mr. McCain endured as a prisoner of war, and as a human with a unique American experience that we all can look up to. He is without question far superior in this regard to this fool named Obama. Nevertheless, Mr. McCain’s votes in the Senate and his words upon the stump lead me to no other conclusion than that he is not espousing as candidate McCain the vision of our country that he says he held close to his heart as prisoner McCain. Either that, or he simply does not understand the non-negotiable essence of the American idea. That disconnect is now palpable in the growing antagonism towards the Arizona Senator.
America is an idea and it is the moral superiority of its foundational idea which implicitly includes concepts such as laissez-faire capitalism, the inalienable individual rights of life, liberty, and property. Such a presumption of individual freedoms irritate the Obamists as well as the Islamists, in fact fundamentalists of every stripe. Moral clarity about America will give you the courage to stand up for the conviction which that idea implies. Convictions about a very unique idea that subsumes the state to be subservient to the individual. This is unique to America and Americans – it is by definition non-negotiable. People wonder why there is contempt, even hatred, for America in parts of the world? The above explains much, it is the oldest of emotions. Resentment of success (jealousy) and our freedoms go a long way to understanding the current state of moral uncertainty and moral relativism in the world, and the conflictions and irrationality of presidential candidates whose stated goals and programs have no other ultimate end than to raise the state over the individual.
The American Left and our enemies abroad are really against this moral clarity and our virtues, coupled with the fact we are willing to face the facts; willing to make clear moral judgments and act independently with, as Ayn Rand stated, a “radiant certainty and absolute rectitude of knowing that ours is the Morality of Life, of Liberty, of Happiness and that we need not apologize to anyone for it.” We should not apologize for our freedom, our profits or our unmatched successes as it is America, the last and best hope for freedom and liberty in this world, who deserves not disdain but rather a huge “thank you” from the rest of the civilized world. The founding fathers of this country understood that our future, and the future of the world, was dependent upon leaving the “Old Countries” and old dogmas behind.
I believe it is time to follow that truth, that rational realization. This, more than anything, is why I cannot support John McCain. Sadly, of our two presidential candidates one is merely a dime store collectivist while the other is a sad and confused amalgam of collectivism with a pretense of “conservatism.” As if being a collectivist-minded politician wearing a Conservative badge inoculates the ill-effects of collectivism. Therefore, my best hope for this coming presidential election is that there will be enough Americans with conviction who will say NO to both of these characters and that the mandate, the majority, will have summarily rejected both.
I remain proud to have the conviction of an American!