The scandal du jour, from the ignorant, anti-Christian sectors of the Left, comes courtesy of a brief excerpt of a radio interview with Heidi Cruz, Ted Cruz’s wife:
For those who don’t have 92 seconds to listen, here are the quotes that caused Ken Meyer at Mediaite to call Cruz’s statements a bizarre rant:
We are at a cultural crossroads in our country, and if we can be in this race to show this country the face of the God that we serve — this Christian God that we serve is the foundation of our country, our country was built on Judeo-Christian values, we are a nation of freedom of religion, but the God of Christianity is the God of freedom, of individual liberty, of choice and of consequence.
I think that’s something that this country really needs to be reminded of, is that Christians are loving people, are nonjudgmental people, but there is right and wrong, we have a country of law and order, there are consequences to actions and we must all live peaceably in our own faiths under the Constitution. And Ted is uniquely able to deliver on that combination of the law and religion.
Thomas Jefferson envisioned a wall of separation between Church and State. Ted Cruz envisions that wall being torn down entirely. He’s not judging, he just thinks people who disagree are wrong and bad.
In reality, Heidi Cruz’s comment represents a standard (and accurate) expression not just of Evangelical beliefs, but also of American history. Christians aspire to “show the face of God” in all that we do — by imitating as much as we can our Savior, Jesus Christ. We fail often, but we’re better for the effort. As for Cruz’s statement that our nation was built on “Judeo-Christian values,”
RUSH: William Galston writing in the Wall Street Journal on December 30th: "The Christian Heart of American Exceptionalism." It's quite a piece. If this piece had appeared outside the week between Christmas and New Year's, I think it would have gotten a lot more notice than it has. His point is that we Americans are exceptional in our belief of Christianity and that we believe it more than anybody will tell you.
"In this year-end holiday season, it is timely to reflect on American exceptionalism. Although this phrase is much abused in partisan polemics, it should not be discarded. The United States does continue to differ from most other developed democratic countries. And the heart of that difference is religion. The durability of American religious belief refutes the once-canonical thesis that modernization and secularization necessarily go hand in hand.
"This is all the more remarkable because our Founders drafted a deliberately secular constitution. In 20 quietly revolutionary words, Article VI declares that '[N]o religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.' Consistent with that prohibition, newly elected officials -- from the president on down -- may choose either to 'swear' (that is, to take a religious oath) or simply to 'affirm' their loyalty to the Constitution.
"In 1789, this secular national constitution perched uneasily atop a Christian population residing in states the majority of which had established an official religion. These establishments have disappeared. But despite the enormous growth in the nation’s diversity over the past 225 years, Christian conviction remains pervasive.
"If you doubt this, take a look at the survey the Pew Research Center released without much fanfare two weeks ago. Among its principal findings: 73% of U.S. adults believe that Jesus was born to a virgin; 81%, that the baby Jesus was laid in a manger; 75%, that wise men guided by a star brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh; and 74%, that an angel announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds. Fully 65% of Americans believe all four of these elements of the Christmas story, while only 14% believe none of them. Although Republicans are more likely to espouse these beliefs than are Democrats and Independents, each group endorses them by a two-thirds majority or more."
Let me tell you what American exceptionalism is -- and please bear
with me, those of you who've heard this, because it needs to be
repeated, particularly now.
Our president doesn't understand what it is. Vladimir Putin may know
what it really is but he's taking the occasion of Obama's lack
understanding to use Obama's definition and then spank Obama with it. . . .
Anyway, what American exceptionalism is not: It is not that we are
better people. It is not that we are superior people. It is not that
we are smarter people. It is not that God loves us and hates everybody
else. It is not that God prefers us. It is not that God doesn't prefer
American exceptionalism has nothing to do with anything but freedom and liberty. Here is what American exceptionalism is. . . .
The following is adapted from a speech delivered on September 20,
2012, in Washington, D.C., at Hillsdale College’s third annual
Constitution Day Dinner.
ONCE UPON A TIME, hardly anyone dissented from the idea that, for
better or worse, the United States of America was different from all
other nations. This is not surprising, since the attributes that made it
different were vividly evident from the day of its birth. Let me say a
few words about three of them in particular.
First of all, unlike all other nations past or present, this one
accepted as a self-evident truth that all men are created equal. What
this meant was that its Founders aimed to create a society in which, for
the first time in the history of the world, the individual’s fate would
be determined not by who his father was, but by his own freely chosen
pursuit of his own ambitions. In other words, America was to be
something new under the sun: a society in which hereditary status and
class distinctions would be erased, leaving individuals free to act and
to be judged on their merits alone. There remained, of course, the two
atavistic contradictions of slavery and the position of women; but so
intolerable did these contradictions ultimately prove that they had to
be resolved—even if, as in the case of the former, it took the bloodiest
war the nation has ever fought.
Secondly, in all other countries membership or citizenship was a
matter of birth, of blood, of lineage, of rootedness in the soil. Thus,
foreigners who were admitted for one reason or another could never
become full-fledged members of the society. But America was the
incarnation of an idea, and therefore no such factors came into play. To
become a full-fledged American, it was only necessary to pledge
allegiance to the new Republic and to the principles for which it stood.
Obama's on-going determination to "transform America" (requiring ignoring, by-passing, and trashing the U.S. Constitution) is laid bear in Mark Levin's new book, "Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America." Terence P. Jeffrey chronicles an in-depth interview with Levin that is MUST READING.
The book, released Monday, compares the Utopian and unworkable schemes laid out by political philosophers from Plato to Thomas Hobbes with the vision of natural law, God-given rights, and individual liberty that inspired the Founding Fathers when they wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
“Utopianism is not new,” Levin writes in “Ameritopia.” “It has been repackaged countless times—since Plato and before. It is as old as tyranny itself. In democracies, its practitioners legislate without end. In America, law is piled upon law in contravention and contradiction of the governing law—the Constitution.”
Levin’s verdict: Barack Obama and modern American liberals are firmly in the Utopian camp—pursuing a vision fundamentally at odds with limited government and human freedom.
“I believe to a great extent we now live in a post-constitutional country, where much of the Constitution is ignored or evaded,” Levin told CNSNews.com.
“What I want the readers to understand, what I want the public to understand is, this is not new and it’s going to destroy us,” said Levin. “It’s going to destroy us because it is an attack on the individual. It is an attack on the nature of human beings.”
Peggy Noonan writes of Ronald Reagan centenary celebrations this past week in Krakow, Budapest, Prague and London. These nations thanked God for President Ronald Reagan and erected monuments in his honor. The leader of Hungary's government ended his speech saying, "We need a Ronald Reagan. Is he there, somewhere, already?" To which Noonan added, 'The world misses him as much as we do. It misses grand leadership as much as we do." Noonan again:
The world looks to America. It doesn't want to be patronized or dominated by America, it wants to see America as a beacon, an example, a dream of what could be. And the world wants something else: American goodness. It wants to have faith in the knowledge that America is the great nation that tries to think about and act upon right and wrong, and that it is a beacon also of things practical—how to have a sturdy, good, unsoiled economy, how to create jobs that provide livelihoods that allow families to be formed, how to maintain a system in which inventors and innovators can flourish. A world without America in this sense—the beacon, the inspiration, the speaker of truth—would be a world deprived of hopefulness. And so we must be our best selves again not only for us but for the world. [more...]
It seems many people today don't understand the uniqueness of America's foundation, principles, and place in the world today. In a must read piece, Clifford D.May, the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, notes that Richard Cohen, in “The Myth of American Exceptionalism,”
posits that the “problem of the 21st century” is “the culture of smugness. The emblem of this culture is ‘American exceptionalism.’ It has been adopted by the right to mean that America, alone among the nations, is beloved of God.”
Cohen provides no evidence that anyone on the right defines exceptionalism as he does. What do those of us who use, defend, and advocate exceptionalism mean instead?
Among other things, that America is simply different from other nations. It is a nation of immigrants from every corner of the earth, a nation bound not by ancestral blood but by revolutionary ideas and beliefs brilliantly articulated more than two centuries ago in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
The founding of the United States ushered in the modern democratic experiment, along with new concepts of freedom and human rights. In the 20th century, the Greatest Generation fought for the survival of that experiment against its totalitarian enemies, Nazi, Fascist, and Communist alike. Today, the challenges posed by Islamic totalitarianism test a new generation.
America has been a uniquely productive nation: a font of invention, creativity, and economic dynamism. In America, tens of millions of people have risen from poverty. The United States has been a singularly generous, if not always effective, provider of assistance to other countries, including those where Americans are not popular.
But, most of all, exceptionalism implies that the responsibility for global leadership rests on America’s shoulders, not because Americans hunger for power but because there is no good alternative.
One wouldn't ordinarily expect an opinion piece by Stanley fish published in the New York Times to be particularly favorable to Sarah Palin, but Fish's article, "Exceptionalism, Faith and Freedom: Palin's America," proves enjoyable reading. Outstanding to me in this review of Palin's America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag, are the many references to "American exceptionalism" which Fish agrees are historically grounded. He applauds Palin's "humility" in letting the quotes and references take center stage in her book. A good read . . .
“This deeply researched, clearly organized, and well written book illuminates a complex and often controversial history. The Revolutionary and Constitutional periods were neither ‘Christian’ nor ‘godless’ as these terms are used in modern polemics. Instead, patriots and leaders of the early United States united to support disestablishment and common principles about the need for virtue to insure republican freedoms, despite holding different personal beliefs. Thomas Kidd is a remarkably sure-footed guide through this treacherous historical terrain.”—Mark Noll
“A truly ‘revolutionary’ book, in all the right ways.”—Rodney Stark
Caroline Click asserts that Glenn Beck's "Restore Honor" Washington gathering was really a rally to restore the "American Creed." "The American Creed," she says,
has two main components. First, its core belief is that America is an exceptional country and that the American people are an exceptional nation. Second, it asserts that as Abraham Lincoln first said outright, America is the last, best hope for mankind.
She states further,
The reason Beck's rally was a watershed event is that in the Age of Obama, millions of Americans for the first time feel the need to reclaim what they believe is their birthright as Americans. Because what distinguishes Obama from his predecessors is that he is the first American President who clearly rejects the American creed. [emphasis added]
Is Glick right? Does Obama reject the "American Creed" as she defines it? Yes. As Glick points out:
This basic truth was first brought to the public's attention during Obama's visit to Turkey last year. A reporter there asked him, "[Do] you subscribe, as many of your predecessors have, to the school of 'American exceptionalism' that sees America as
This article has good things to say. I like the phrase "new resistance." What's happening in Washington needs resistance. We need to embrace the movement, join up. and get active. Pearcey opens by saying:
Despite what has been
reported in the formerly mainstream media, the New Resistance
in America -- the tea parties, the town halls, protests on Capitol Hill
and so on -- is to be welcomed and not cast aside as "extreme." The
"angry mobs" and "unruly crowds" are actually signs of health, sanity
What these uppity folk are telling us is
that, despite years of miseducation and inattention, millions of
ordinary people have not forgotten who they are as Americans.
Even more, this resistance suggests that significant numbers of
Americans may be on a path to rediscovering something rather
By "exceptional" is meant not just
who they are in their national identity, but who they are as creatures
of resistance, hardwired that way by the Creator himself. . .
I consider Steyn's sustained meditationon America's future extraordinarily important and persuasive. Steyn writes:
What happens when the policies that brought ruin to Detroit and sclerosis to California become the basis for the nation at large? Strictly on the numbers, the United States is in the express lane to Declinistan: unsustainable entitlements, the remorseless governmentalization of the economy and individual liberty, and a centralization of power that will cripple a nation of this size. Decline is the way to bet. . .
Steyn says Europeans were not always the Euro-weenies they have become:
Hayek’s greatest insight in The Road to Serfdom is psychological: “There is one aspect of the change in moral values brought about by the advance of collectivism which at the present time provides special food for thought,” he wrote with an immigrant’s eye on the Britain of 1944. “It is that the virtues which are held less and less in esteem and which consequently become rarer are precisely those on which the British people justly prided themselves and in which they were generally agreed to excel. The virtues possessed by Anglo-Saxons in a higher degree than most other people,
- Update #2 - Jonah Goldberg calls attention to what he calls the "Cliffs Notes" on his book, Liberal Fascism, mentioned (and linked) below.
- (Original Post) - I agree with Goldberg when he says that the uniqueness of America versus Europe "is probably where the intellectual debate is going." It was the substance of his remarks on a CPAC panel last weekend [begin at the 4 minute video spot].
Anyway, I bring this up because the best primer on the subject of
American exceptionalism and conservatism can be found in the Rich and
Ramesh's cover story of the latest
issue. It's really just a great piece of work and very much worth
reading for the arguments to come.
Me: I posted this primarily because of the links. I remember reading Charles Murray's speech when it was first published. It is full of unusual insight and needs to be bookmarked. It may be I'll need to bookmark the other readings as well.
Steyn, as is his wont, has produced another unique article that probably no one else could write, at least certainly not so wittily and engagingly. In the process he awakens readers to the exceptional nature of America in the course of world history. Consider:
“The New World” is one of the oldest settled constitutional democracies
on earth, to a degree “the Old World” can barely comprehend. Where it
counts, Americans are traditionalists. We know Eastern Europe was a
totalitarian prison until the Nineties, but we forget that
Mediterranean Europe (Greece, Spain, Portugal) has democratic roots
going all the way back until, oh, the mid-Seventies; France and
Germany’s constitutions date back barely half a century, Italy’s only
to the 1940s, and Belgium’s goes back about 20 minutes, and currently
it’s not clear whether even that latest rewrite remains operative. The
U.S. Constitution is not only older than France’s, Germany’s, Italy’s
or Spain’s constitution, it’s older than all of them put together.
He goes on:
Americans think of Europe as Goethe and Mozart and 12th century castles
and 6th century churches, but the Continent’s governing mechanisms are
no more ancient than the Partridge Family. Aside from the Anglophone
democracies, most of “the west’”s nation states have been conspicuous