Is there American exceptionalism in 2022? Two weeks ago, America and the year flipped into 2022. With a New Year brings honesty, and hopefully an inner perspective. A look at our past is sometimes a good thing. However, this year something is off. Instead of hope for the future, our media, politicians, leaders and many around us seek to turn the past upside down. Seemingly devising a plot to upend our culture and lives. Remarkably, using a pandemic as an excuse needed to remake the world. 2022 America does not resemble anything I was taught to believe.
I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s. A boomer venturing out into the real world. I believed in America. My family and friends loved this land. America is a land filed with opportunity, and promise. The Marvel and DC universe, (the multi-billion dollar industry popping out action hero movies) started under that premise. Explicitly fighting a persistent underlying evil, these characters used destiny to defeat evil. Showcasing characters with a unique American spirit, the little guy over evil forces. In contrast, former President Barak Obama seemingly scoffed at the notion of American exceptionalism. Was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream realized? That depends on who you believe.
Fighting for Freedom
This same spirit saw our uncles, fathers and grandfathers defeat evil during World War II. Fighting for our freedom was a noble endeavor. Like comic book characters, they fought for all of us. Afterward they showed each of us the secret to success – hard work. However, today’s woke generation seems to mock their efforts – saying it was not enough. Unquestionably believing with hubris, they could have done better. In a recent article author Victor David Hanson called them “Critics (who) assume that their own judgmental generation is morally superior to those of the past.”
During wartime, America confronted with the evil of Hitler and communism, set out to eradicate it. Undeniably, these real life despots sought to take away freedom. However, America’s response in the face of evil? Failure could never be an option.
Eventually our soldiers came home. Real life heroes building this country into the greatest democratic power the world had ever seen. Surely, America is the place to make dreams come true. After defeating Hitler and communism, the real heroes came home to focus on internal conditions. Setting sights on the goal of civil rights and equality. The American spirit prevailed, a living definition of American Exceptionalism.
America started as an idea, unlike anywhere else in the world. America believes all that is needed to succeed is desire and hard work. It is part of my DNA as a US citizen. My role models, from our founders to my family, taught me this spirit was alive. Many who came before me proved it. I didn’t come from a pedigree of wealthy parents paving a way for me. Quite the contrary. My parents believed education would level the playing field and provide opportunities. The melting pot of New York City was where my friends, neighbors and I lived. Unquestionably, with the same belief! Some succeeded. Some did not. People around me transcended their past becoming American influencers.
This generation for some reason does not believe in American exceptionalism. Unfortunately, they do not believe in my definition of America. Rather, they believe in American exploitation. For some reason they believe hard work is an anathema. While I looked up to my father and others for their hard work, this generation seems to believe they should be handed the keys without any work or risk necessary to get it. Unfortunately they look upon wealth as a burden, yet pine when they can’t have it. They mock people such as Elon Musk, lying that he pays no taxes. They undoubtedly live in a secure world, denying the fact that taxes he and others with wealth pay, provide America with their security. Looking at the hard work of previous generations, emphatically believing they would have done it all better.
A Noble Effort
America stood for something, a country believing in itself and its people. If you came from somewhere else, you had as much opportunity at achieving success as any other person on the planet. Each generation coming to our shores were enslaved in some way, risking all to remove those shackles. Each generation brought with them a new group of immigrants destined to find a way to success. Success for themselves and their progeny. The America in which I grew up believes in a God that did not hate people of different colors, creeds, nationalities, or even sexual orientation. All of us came from somewhere else. Assimilating, to become one country, fighting side by side defending it from evil.
Taking the torch from our parents, we started running with it. Subsequently we confronted overt racism. Many of us believed in the words of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Many sought to make his dream a reality, standing with others to remake our flawed country. Subsequently we attempted to create the world he dreamed about, where people are judged by the content of their character. We focused on civil rights. We defended people that did not have a voice. America was the first to create and pass the Civil Rights Act. We actually built laws to prevent racism, why did we do it? Because our Constitution is built on a simple premise given by our founding “all are created equal.” While there are still too many places where racism exists, it has clearly been a noble effort the majority of Americans have supported, and believe is possible.
Only in America
America has worked hard over my lifetime to level the playing field for all. This includes blacks, women, and others, subsequently, working side by side with our brothers and sisters of all races , attempting to defeat segregation and inequality. Doing our best. We worked to stop it, without burning down infrastructure and monuments of the past. To our credit, we did not act like spoiled children. We did not throw tantrums, destroying property based on what we did not agree with or approve. We did it by example by standing up for others. In the face of racism, we stood side by side creating laws, seeking to educate our youth. I believe we succeeded, because we moved the line far beyond where it started, proudly becoming a united nation. A nation working to provide an equality of opportunity. However, all of a sudden – it is not enough.
The elimination of hatred and inequality is virtually impossible. It is undeniable, however, in the face of inequality, America has achieved much.We have done much as a culture to create a country where everyone has the tools needed to succeed. It is no longer acceptable today to blatantly discriminate based on race, creed, or sexual orientation. What was once commonplace is no longer tolerated nor accepted. While eradicating hate and discrimination can never be fully realized, we have come leagues beyond the world Jesse Owens faced in the 1936 Olympics, or a country which fought against Jackie Robinson playing Major League Baseball in 1947, or a place where Muhammad Ali could not work or defend his title. But it happened only because of American exceptionalism.
2020 American Exceptionalism is Not Perfect
However, I am not naïve to believe racism, jealousy and hatred do not exist. Unquestionably, there are people who hate, living under every color, nationality, sex, and creed, using exploitation and lies to further their cause. Subsequently believing they are entitled to their spoils, but any others who come after them are not. Taking to the streets in the summer of 2020 as a show, pushing an agenda of hate and destruction. Tearing down monuments, disagreeing and removing anything which made us great. While THAT was not classified as insurrection; they focus on people who saw laws ignored and killed no one as domestic terrorists. Ignoring a simple fact – no country or human is perfect. Unfortunately they believe the way to right every wrong can be achieved by removing self-governance; self determination; the rule of law. In the process creating mayhem and division.
The Woke generation today, cannot accept anything but a perfect utopia. Claiming dedication to perfection, they want it now! Surprisingly, they cannot live up to the standards they set for everyone else. More importantly, setting rules to follow for everyone but themselves. Undeniably blaming someone else for their actions.
Tear It All Down ?
Surprisingly, this woke generation along with a compliant media seeks to destroy America as it is. Selling America as any place but exceptional. Incredibly believing America is a racist culture, an irredeemable past that must be remade. Ultimately placing our republic and freedoms at risk, starting with the single document making America exceptional, our Constitution. Blaming the few miscreants in society, saying they represent the majority. Focusing on the ignorant among us to believe; they turn us against one another, refusing to acknowledge any of the factors which made us great.
Leaders today stopped creating the infrastructure to achieve greatness, meanwhile imposing an elite aristocracy determined to limit our future. Elites along with a compliant media and technology barons create the means to remove what made America great. Tearing down monuments of the past in the name of progress? Replacing them with hatred and mistrust, without informing us what they intend to replace it with!
Undeniably, those days are upon us. Seemingly mocking religion and piety, this woke generation wants us to believe the future will look brighter when they are in control. Unfortunately, they operate opposite their rhetoric of freedom. They believe freedom is ONLY for those who agree. There can be no dissent, just undying fealty. But who is their leader? What are their founding principles? Where is their hard work? What do they believe in? Consequently mocking the foundation with which America was created. But what sort of government do they choose to replace it with? What are their standards for themselves?
Nothing is Impossible
My generation believed anything was possible. As a result, we sought to achieve the impossible. Putting a man on the moon; feeding the world; creating mass communication. Sharing our knowledge. We live in a world where today, communicating across the world is ubiquitous. Access to information once available to only an elite few is now at everyone’s fingertips. America worked to make sure everyone could join in the dream of American exceptionalism.
There is only one hope for our future, and it comes from the first sentence of our founding document, the American Constitution. WE THE PEOPLE have the power. It is just that simple.