Restoring the Sacred

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bruce Thornton: Preserving American Exceptionalism


Bruce Thornton, whose five part interview with Peter Robinson was featured earlier on this Blog (you can find all five parts by typing his name in the "Search This Blog" box on the right), has written an essay for The Heritage Foundation on Political Thought. The title of his essay is: America the Delusional? Overcoming Our European Temptation, and it is adapted from his book: Decline and Fall: Europe’s Slow-Motion Suicide.
Reproduced here is the final section of his essay:

Preserving American Exceptionalism

All of these American ideals––political freedom and autonomy, citizen independence and self-reliance, limited government, religion, patriotism, and nationalist autonomy backed up by vigorous military power—comprise American exceptionalism. These ideals that define our nation would have to be weakened or discarded if America were to follow the EU road to utopia.

Regrettably, we have already been travelling down that road for decades. By the early 20th century, the rise of Progressivism had established in the public discourse the doctrine of social, economic, and political change controlled and directed by technical elites. This class, backed by government power, would work to improve and perfect life and solve problems based on what Bradley C. S. Watson describes as a “faith in intelligence and expertise translated into support for a vast state mechanism that would be confidently dedicated to ensuring growth—by means of progressive education, the administrative state, and redistribution of capital.”[38]

The expansion of the federal government that commenced under Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, was furthered by Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs, and has intensified under Barack Obama is continuing this process. The result is increased entitlement spending and government intrusion into the economy, education, and social life. Consequently, the U.S. is now facing many of the same fiscal problems that afflict Europe, with entitlement spending projected to double by 2050 and public debt slated to rise to 180 percent of GDP by 2035.[39] And let us not forget the erosion of traditional independence and self-reliance, the constriction of freedoms, and the infantilizing of Americans that follow the greater intrusion of government power into our daily lives and business.

Such policies and the philosophy behind them require that the ideals of American exceptionalism be discarded if the U.S. is to follow the path of the EU, as many liberals believe we should. The cost of abandoning those ideals would be larger and more expensive government and increasing encroachments on the quintessential American political goods of individual freedom and self-reliance. Without a political sea change in the next few years, the United States will continue to head down the road to nowhere.


You can read Dr. Thornton's entire essay by clicking here.


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