Renewing the American Spirit

Patriot Week begins on 9/11 and ends on 9/17 (the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution (Constitution Day)) and renews America’s spirit by celebrating the First Principles, Founding Fathers and other Patriots, vital documents and speeches, and flags that make America the greatest nation in world history. Many of current holidays have become overly commercialized or have lost their deeper meaning. We need to invigorate our appreciation and understanding of America’s spirit. This blog is dedicated to keeping the spirit of Patriot Week - and America - alive all year long.....

Saturday, August 27, 2011

American Patriotism is Beyond Loving the Soil, It is Loving Our First Principles

Noah Webster's An American Dictionary of the English Language from 1828 defines patriotism as follows: n. Love of one's country; the passion which aims to serve one's country, either in defending it from invasion, or protecting its rights and maintaining its laws and institutions in vigor and purity. Patriotism is the characteristic of a good citizen, the noblest passion that animates a man in the character of a citizen. 

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 11th Edition from 2004 defines patriotism as: n. Love for or devotion to one's country.

[Credit to Tara Russo for finding these definitions!]

Interestingly, the definition of Noah Webster - who was a true Patriot - has a much deeper and richer meaning.  It is beyond loving the soil.  It is loving and understanding our Founding First Principles articulated in the Declaration of Independence and embedded in our Constitution.  The modern day version of Patriotism, like so much of society, completely ignores the deeper meaning.  And with its passing, we lose what it means to be an American.  That's why we need Patriot Week..

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

We hold the fate of America

We hold the fate of America

On the eve of his inauguration, Abraham Lincoln addressed Governor Oliver Morton and the citizens of Indiana with these telling words:

In all the trying positions in which I shall be placed, and doubtless I shall be placed in many trying ones, my reliance will be placed upon you and the people of the United States - and I wish you to remember now and forever, that it is your business, and not mine; that if the union of these States, and the liberties of this people, shall be lost, it is but little to any one man of fifty-two years of age, but a great deal to the thirty millions of people who inhabit these United States, and to their posterity in all coming time. It is your business to rise up and preserve the Union and liberty, for yourselves, and not for me. I desire that they shall be constitutionally preserved.

What say today's political class to this? It does not matter, what matters, as Lincoln remarked, is what we say - and do.

For more on Lincoln and our future, visit Patriot Week and America's Survival Guide.

Monday, August 8, 2011

America: Blessed by God

George Washington perceptively commented in his First Inaugural Address:

"No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency..." 

Those that really know American history, no that this was no idle observation.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Self Government - The Crux of America

"we have builded up a form of self-government and a social system which is peculiarly our own. It differs essentially from all others in the world. It is the American system. It is just as definite and positive a political and social system as has ever been developed on earth." Herbert Hoover.

Although Hoover is not a particularly popular icon today, his understanding that America has a unique system - based on a foundation of self-government - is undeniably correct. In the words of the Declaration of Independence, America's system rests on the "consent of the governed." This consent is a key component of our First Principle of the Social Compact

This is why we allow protests - even those we despise; why we vote for our political leaders; why we allow initiatives, recalls, and referenda; and why public opinion is so important in public decision making. This is in striking contrast to many regimes on earth, where speech is oppressed; leaders are imposed; laws cannot be challenged; and public opinion is irrelevant.

We have been - and continue to face - a heated public dialogue (perhaps rancor is the better word) about many public issues, but it is the price we pay for our freedom.

For more about the Social Compact, visit America's Survival Guide and Patriot Week

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Free Speech: Keep it Precious

In his famous dissent in Abrams v United States, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote that "the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get  itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes can be safely carried out.  That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution."

Patriot Week celebrates the First Principle of unalienable rights - and the freedom of speech and press are some of our most cherished unalienable rights.

Today, this sentiment seems to be accepted as law, but under assault in practice.  Too often political commentators engage in ad hominen attacks and character assassination.  The demonization of those on the other side of political disputes is so commonplace, that it hardly is noticed.

Stated another way, although freedom of speech and press are precious rights, they have been cheapened and weakened by today's corrosive atmosphere.  When is the last time we had a serious political debate invoking the higher principles - the better angels - of our nature?

But Justice Holmes is correct - it is the competition of ideas - in a free marketplace - in which the best public policy and ideas can be derived - and attacking the messengers does nothing but corrupt and denigrate the quality of the debate - to the detriment of all.