As a happy warrior who sees the glass half full, certainly these days it has become hard to feel optimistic about our country with the massive $30 trillion national debt, an out of control border, inflation roaming in the stratosphere and the “woke” policies on college campuses and in corporate board rooms. The incompetent and irresponsible leadership we see in Washington at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue do not inspire confidence — but despair.
But I do believe our country was built on optimism for what opportunities would be to come. It was and is the American dream. So, I was profoundly encouraged to read Adam Brandon and David Sokol’s new book “America in Perspective,” which reminds us that America always prevails through divine providence and commitment to success and excellence. We do always soldier on through wars, corruption, depressions, natural disasters and wayward leadership.
The authors recognize that amid the struggle for America’s national identity, we must harness the spirit of the founding fathers, who transformed a set of colonies suffering under British tyranny into the world’s foremost superpower.
Brandon and Sokol remind readers of two features of our national system that are responsible for America’s unique success. The embrace of meritocracy and opportunity for all that has inspired millions to pursue the American Dream. And the creation of a constitutional system that safeguards individual liberty has been equally critical in guaranteeing America’s prosperity.
Both of those bedrock principles are under assault today. That’s scary. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, a liberal member of Congress, actually disparages the idea that Americans can lift themselves “up from their bootstraps.” She says it is impossible.
There are some valuable warning signs in the book about what happens if we fail to get it right.
Its discussion of Argentina’s collapse from its position of economic prominence in the early 20th century provides a cautionary tale. Like America, Argentina successfully encouraged economic development. But political leaders micromanaging the economy, and the degradation of civic institutions due to a lack of a robust constitutional structure, has set the country back decades.
I am confident, as are the authors, that we will avert this stroll down the road to tyranny and poverty. But it’s also true that for tyranny to prevail “all that is required is for men of goodwill to do nothing.” Freedom’s voices need to ring out — resoundingly.
The nation’s history has its low points, and we shouldn’t ignore these. But we also shouldn’t discredit the eternally good values that America was founded upon, and its uniquely successful system of government, because of these mistakes.
In fact, as the authors observe, it is that very system that has allowed America to be so resilient as it has emerged from dark periods in our history. While other countries have collapsed entirely when placed under similar pressures, America emerges from its most difficult times stronger than ever. Not only have Americans learned from the failures of the past, but we’ve improved as a result.
Brandon and Sokol reject claims that the American Dream is dead, and that our nation’s best days are behind us. They cite examples of those living the American Dream today, ranging from Spanx founder Sara Blakely, to famed NFL quarterback Peyton Manning. The former, born into a middle class family with no remarkable athletic ability or superhuman intellect, is a self-made billionaire.
Stories like Blakely’s are additional evidence that there is something special about America. They remind us that, while imperfect, America’s meritocratic economic system and constitutional government should be a source of pride for its citizens. It’s also why countless immigrants have made the journey to find a better life in America.
Sokol is too humble to say it, but he is a living example of the American dream. He grew up in modest means in the rural Midwest and built businesses that made him wealthy. He’s a member of the Horatio Alger Society for his contributions to American might.
My takeaway from the book is we must re-embrace the constitutional principles that are the foundation of our greatness. Yes, they are under assault. The left wants to pack the Supreme Court, change election laws to encourage cheating, end the filibuster and federalize everything to make the states the minions of Washington.
Adam Brandon and David Sokol’s “America in Perspective” is an imperative reminder of why we can’t and won’t allow that to happen. This needs to be in every classroom, library and boardroom in America.
Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and is the author of “Govzilla: How the Relentless Growth of Government Is Devouring America.”
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