Monday, July 21, 2008

On the American Experiment

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Lincoln's words at Gettysburg. They rank high in the recognizable statements from our history. And few have managed to so easily capture just what makes America so special.
And make no mistakes. For all of her faults and failures, America is special. The real question is what was it that made her so. When our Founders committed treason against King George III, they probably weren't thinking too much on the form of government they would eventually adopt to replace the crown of England. And judging from the myriad of attempts made between the signing of the Deceleration and the eventual adoption of the Constitution, I would say that like many educated people of their time, they weren't afraid to try a little experimentation.
As in any experiment, there has to have been an end result. That end result was the American Experiment. And it is that experiment that is still on going. And while we are the beneficiaries of that experiment, we are also the overseers. And when I say 'we', I do not mean just us as Americans but specifically, we the people of America.
The great experiment our forefathers bequeathed us was not democracy per se; it was instead self-governance. And while many people might see democracy and self-governance as much the same, I would disagree. Self-governance is the political system centered around the individual given the freedom and space to make his own decisions to order his own life. To our Founders, government is not here to give us direction or provide order for our lives. Government is here only to provide the most basic of laws and services to allow the free man to do this.
And that is the American experiment. Providing just enough government so that people can order their lives as they wish and govern themselves.

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