Can America Become the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave again?
EspañolI can say—not as a patriotic bromide, but with full knowledge of the necessary metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, political and esthetic roots—that the United States of America is the greatest, the noblest and, in its original founding principles, the only moral country in the history of the world. Ayn Rand
This July 4, 240 years have passed since 13 American colonies declared their independence from the British rule. But in reality it was much more than that.
The United States was not only declaring independence from Great Britain, it was declaring the independence of its inhabitants from any person or power that wanted to control their lives, freedoms, or pursuit of happiness.
To acknowledge, proclaim, and guarantee those rights was a turning point in the history of mankind.
The United States was populated by immigrants, mostly English, Scottish, and Irish. They crossed the ocean, leaving behind their families, lands, and customs with one end: finding freedom and opportunity.
Nobody embarked with any guarantee of success. They risked their lives at sea and knew that they would continue to do so once they reached a mostly unknown continent.
There were no social plans, state help, or subsidies back then. Each one was on their own and wasn’t forced to carry other people on, nor was it expected for others to take care of them.
They were less educated people and had no access to formal education. They were underfed. They were much poorer than today’s poor. They had no adequate transportation, heating, or electricity. No fridges, microwaves, internet or vaccines.
However, they were brave people. They knew their destiny was in their hands and trusted their abilities enough to make their way in life, firm in their belief all they needed were the opportunities created by freedom.
They were among the first to understand the meaning of “creating wealth” and so invented the most prosperous country in mankind’s history. The success wasn’t the result of chance, natural resources, the weather, or any genetic advantage.
The United States was founded on principles that the settlers learnt in their motherland and were able to apply even more deeply in the New World.
In 1688, when King James II of England didn’t find the necessary support to rule, he left the throne to William of Orange, in an episode known as the “Glorious Revolution.” On the one side, it helped end the king’s absolute power and on the other managed to institutionalize individual rights based on John Locke’s A Letter Concerning Toleration and Two Treatises of Government (life, property, and freedom).
Most immigrants who came to the United States were Anglo-Saxon and brought with them these rooted principles. It was them, seated in a new land with no political barriers, who consolidated individual rights as the base of the relationship between citizens and government.
It was them who determined that the role of the US government should be the protection of said rights and came up with the right to pursue happiness.
It was them who recognized the ethical value as a necessary condition for legal and political validity. The Founding Fathers made a decisive step when they inscribed these principles in the Declaration of Independence, in the Constitution, and in the Bill of Rights.
This small institutional change transformed a wild country into the land of opportunities, a fertile ground for those who look to sow, reap, and preserve the fruits of their hard work.
Brave, free, and independent men and women created a system of voluntary cooperation were all progressed, catalyzing the most prosperous country on Earth.
The current situation is very different. The United States is abandoning each day the principles that gave life and soul to its greatness.
It is abandoning reason, individualism, and classic liberalism to adopt whims, collectivism, and populism.
It is leaving behind individual rights to worship “social rights.”
It has stopped being a role model and has begun adopting the values that made Latin America poor and corrupt.
It is no longer the place were freedom lovers seek refuge; it is slowly becoming the paradise for the lovers of handouts and a welfare state.
The current US president and the people most likely to replace him, Trump and Clinton, represent the opposite of what Washington, the Adams brothers, Franklin, Hamilton, Jay, Madison and Jefferson had in mind.
The future not only holds a current against the Founding Fathers’ principles, but also an accelerated trend toward the path Latin America has taken and which leads straight to decadence.
Soon US citizens will have a chance to reflect on the path the country is heading to. Depending on their choice, the United States will continue to have the honor of being called the “land of the free and the home of the brave” or it will fall in the perverse trap its southern neighbors have fallen into.
In the meanwhile, Jefferson’s words will continue to echo as a reminder and a warning: “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.”