Sunday, July 04, 2004

Happy 208th Birthday, USA

Today marks the 208th birthday of the United States of America, the greatest force for good that the world has ever known. For all of its flaws, it is clear that our democratic form of government is superior to those that came before it (as well as those who came after it), and our focus on freedom and opportunity continue to act as a draw to the smartest, most talented, and most ambitious brains around the world.

Fred Wilson writes that he is not a nationalist. I am a nationalist. I believe that the US is the greatest country in the world, and that while it isn't always right, deserves the benefit of the doubt. I believe that there's nothing wrong with waving the flag.

On the other hand, as a nationalist who wishes to spread our values and way of life around the globe, I also realize that honey attracts more flies than vinegar. We need to pursue a course of humble nationalism, where we gently nudge people towards Teddy Roosevelt's "Americanism," rather than demanding that they change, or castigating them when they don't. We have to remember that we have it easier than everyone else, thanks to our Founding Fathers.

So on this 4th of July, celebrate your hard-won freedom. Whether you watch "Fahrenheit 9/11" or go to a ballgame, whether you express your support for the President, or your desire to impeach him, remember how lucky you are. Just as a fish doesn't realize that it's swimming through water, most of the time we don't realize that we are swimming in freedom. Most of us, me included, waste more freedom in a day than most people in the world have in a lifetime.

2 comments:

Lachlan said...

This year marks the 103rd anniversary of the Federation of Australia, the greatest force for good that the world has ever known. For all of its flaws, it is clear that the Australian democratic form of government is superior to those that came before it (as well as those who came after it)...

...as a nationalist who wishes to spread Australian values and way of life around the globe...


Repeat substituting France, Japan, China and Iraq instead of Australia.

I know you think you are expressing the view of a more enlightened foreign policy for the USA but honestly it isn't your place to "nudge" anybody. Invite nations to adopt your values and way of life, I don't have a problem with that. If they take you up on the offer then great, a sprinkling of American values would probably improve a lot of places. If they don't then so be it, that's their right as a sovereign state.

Chris said...

Lachlan,

Perhaps nudge wasn't the best choice of words. I simply believe that different cultures should be allowed to spread freely, and that the final choice should be left up to individuals (in other words, no banning Muslim headscarves Mr. Chirac).

Of course, I think that the Aussies have plenty of reason to claim that their country is superior to the USA, not the least of which is that the folks their don't drink Foster's.