Why America is exceptional, a graphic example


**Posted by Phineas

I wrote in the last post of how Lincoln, in his Gettysburg address, captured the essence of American exceptionalism in the ideology of liberty that ties this nation together and makes it so different from almost any other place on Earth.

Well, coincidentally the Pew Research Center published the results of a survey examining the views of Americans and West Europeans on the role of the State and the individual. I think you’ll find the results interesting:

The difference is stark, wouldn’t you agree? Forget the Continent, where statism rather than liberty has been the rule and where the “Anglo-American system” (i.e., classical liberalism) is often held up as a bogeyman, but we’re almost polar opposites from our British cousins, from whom we inherited almost our whole political tradition.

And we’re seeing that play out in our national political drama, as time and again the majority of Americans have opposed the vast expansion of the federal government under Obama. When a truly large demonstrations took place here, it was against massive federal borrowing and the expansion of the state via ObamaCare. When people took to the streets in Europe, for example in France when the government proposed mild entitlement reforms, it was to demand an even bigger state and more “free stuff.”

The percentage preferring liberty to being coddled by the government is too low for my tastes, but it’s still a hopeful sign that we can largely avoid going down the same drain as the EU.

It also shows, in this case via social science rather than oratory, just how unusual we are.

via Dan Mitchell

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

The anniversary of the Gettysburg Address


**Posted by Phineas

Exactly 149 years ago today, President Abraham Lincoln dedicated the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in a speech lasting a little over two minutes:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

No mention of himself, no teleprompter needed.

In my opinion, this is the single greatest speech in American history, surpassing Washington’s Farewell Address, Lincoln’s own second inaugural speech, and FDR’s speech to Congress asking for a declaration of war against Japan. Perhaps President Reagan’s address at Normandy on the D-Day anniversary in 1984 comes closest in oratorical power.

Regardless, in those few words captured the reason why we came into being and why we continue to exist, what makes us, in a word many use but few really understand, “exceptional.” In fact, it wouldn’t be out of line to say this was the moment of our second Founding.

PS: Did you know President Lincoln wasn’t even the main speaker that day? The “main event” was an orator named Edward Everett, who spoke for over two hours. Thank Heaven we weren’t required to memorize that in school.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Weekend Open Thread


Headed out here shortly to catch an early showing of Breaking Dawn Part 1 with the Sisters Toldjah – hopefully the crowds won’t be too bad since we’re going in the morning.  Got other activities planned for later in the day so I won’t be around much.

Enjoy your fall weekend, everyone!

Concord, NC sunrise

Sunrise - Concord, NC.
Taken on 11-15-11 by ST.