It’s Independence Day – so naturally, the left has #AmericaWasNeverGreat trending on Twitter. It’s an argument that has found serious support on the left in response to Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, Make America Great Again. Shaun King of The New York Daily News explicitly made the case for #AmericaWasNeverGreat back in May: “What sustained period in the history of this nation, what decade, what era, what generation was truly great for everybody?...while this country might have been great for George Washington, it wasn’t great for the Africans who were forced to live and work on his plantation.”
This is a rather narrow definition of “great.” It ignores all of world history, including modern history; it sets utopia as the objective bar for greatness.
Let’s look at America’s record in context.
When America was founded, no other nation on earth had the great and good philosophy America would embody: the notion of a kingless Constitutional republic, a land of liberty based on limited government, given its legitimacy by the consent of a moral and religious people. As Andrew Klavan points out today, “Now, because of what America showed the world, even the darkest tyrannies have to call themselves republics simply to maintain a pretense of legitimacy.”
American notions of free speech and freedom of religion became the hallmarks of human rights. American beliefs in freedom against governmental intrusion became the basic definition of liberty.
For most of human history, virtually every society on earth held slaves. America fought a bloody civil war, ending in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of non-black Americans, in order to end slavery.
In the 20th century, while the world decayed into fascism, the United States fought to destroy it, ending Japanese totalitarianism and German Nazism and Italian fascism.
Then, while half the globe descended into communist madness, the United States rebuilt the other half of the globe, contained and finally forced the collapse of the monstrous communist system.
America’s free economic policies came to dominate the globe, liberating billions from the chains of abject poverty.
Yes, America was great. America is great. That’s why everyone wants in – and that’s why nobody on the left wants out.
But for the left that thinks #AmericaWasNeverGreat, the solution is the destruction of the foundational principles that created that greatness: destruction of the nuclear family in the name of sexual license on a social level, attacks on traditional religion, racial division in the name of multiculturalism, unfettered immigration without regard to cultural differences, a growing welfare state that incentivizes dependency. None of that makes America great, or even good.
To keep America great requires understanding the values that made her great in the first place. Our educational system has utterly failed to teach Americans those values; it’s no wonder America’s children now spit in her face.
But that merely means it’s our responsibility to educate. After all, as Ronald Reagan said, freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. It’s our responsibility to ensure that generation never arrives.