In her 239-year history, America has made three colossal mistakes. These do not, however, overwhelm the fact that the idea of America is wholly unique to mankind.
America was the first moral government based on individual rights and freedom. No other government in the history of mankind was based on such a concept. Man’s value and his inalienable rights were paramount to the Founding Fathers. Extraordinary. Everything noble and magnificent that this great nation achieved was in accord with the principle of individual rights.
The idea of American exceptionalism – a concept that President Obama not only scorns but has absolutely no understanding of – is synonymous with the concept of individualism. What is American exceptionalism except individual exceptionalism?
Individualism regards every man as an independent being who possesses an unalienable right to live his own life, dream his own dream and be the master of his own destiny; no group, no mob, no special interest has rights other than the individual rights of all of its citizens.
The social system of a nation based on individualism is capitalism. The best description that comes to mind is from Atlas Shrugged: “I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” Indeed, this is what made America great.
But there have been these three principal mistakes:
At the time of the American founding, slavery was common practice. Blacks were sold into slavery by other black tribes. Africans and Muslims sold slaves to European and American slave traders.
But slavery was an assault on the very idea of America. A country based on individual rights could hardly reconcile that with the idea of slavery. Capitalism is the only system incompatible with slavery. Our Founding Fathers knew this, and they fought long and hard with the slave states, but those states were having none of it. During the Constitutional Convention and all of the debates concerning the Constitution, the best men wanted to abolish slavery right away, and, clearly, they should have. The South, however, would not join the Union without slaves. Without the South, the fledging country would not win a war against the British. So they compromised.
In any deal between good and evil, evil profits. Ayn Rand said, “In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win.” And so it did. Slavery led to the catastrophic Civil War. Approximately 650,000 Americans died so slaves would be free, to the great honor of this country (something the haters never mention). That horrible wrong was corrected at an unfathomable cost.
2) Jimmy Carter
Before Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter was easily the most disastrous president this country ever had. Many of the troubles we have today in the Middle East, and the rise of the global jihad, can be attributed to his policies.
Carter began the destabilization of the Middle East and the rollback of secularism there when he betrayed the shah, our great ally in a critical region, and enabled his overthrow at the hands of the bloodthirsty mullahs who established the Islamic Republic of Iran.
That betrayal bore immediate poison fruit with the 1979 hostage crisis, during which Carter dithered impotently and gave to the world an indelible image of American weakness. When the mullahs freed the hostages on Jan. 20, 1981, the day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated president, they showed the world what they thought of both Carter and his successor.
Imagine if we had backed the shah. Hollywood has churned a number of movies and TV series (Amazon has one right now) imagining what the world would have looked like had the Nazis won. Current reality reflects the inversion of this. Imagine if we had backed the shah – what a wonderful turn for the world. Iran would not be the world’s largest state sponsor of terror. There would be no Hezbollah (an Iranian proxy). The U.S. would have had a staunch ally in the Middle East – a powerful alliance.
Carter lasted only one term, but those terrible four years established that America was not a reliable ally, and would abandon those nations who had been our faithful friends (a precedent Barack Obama has followed many times). In unleashing the mullahs, Carter’s presidency set another precedent as well: It established that America would underestimate, misunderstand and downplay the threat from jihadis and pro-Shariah Islamic supremacists – another precedent Obama has faithfully followed and expanded upon.
3) Barack Obama
Nothing has ever happened to the United States that is worse than the presidency of Barack Hussein Obama. A committed Marxist collectivist, he has stood throughout his presidency against that very principle of individual rights that made America great. In abandoning our allies and aligning with the Muslim Brotherhood and other sinister groups, he has aligned with the most evil forces of the 21st century and overturned the order of the world. In abandoning and even actively turning against our allies (most notably Israel), he has made the United States of America, for so long the beacon of freedom in the world, into an untrustworthy ally, a nation that cannot be taken at its word.
We will be paying for Obama’s presidency for decades to come. The full dimensions of the damage he has caused – the gutting of the economy, the new polarization of the races, the Iran nuclear deal and more – is likely only to be known once he is out of office. And America may never recover from this catastrophe.
If it does, however, it will be because it recovered respect for the principle of individual rights. As Reagan once said, “With all its flaws, American remains a unique achievement for human dignity on a scale unequaled anywhere in the world.” That is still true. The shining city on the hill can shine again. But at this point, that will take a massive change in our political and media culture.