It seems that many people you talk to today compare the United States to other countries in a way that makes the other countries seem superior. “We should have universal healthcare like they do in England.” “Dutch citizens get free college education.” “In France, everyone speaks several languages.” “We should have an unemployment program like they have in Germany.” “We should use more public transportation like the Italians and Japanese do.” The problem with this line of thinking is that what works in other countries can not, and will not, work in the United States, and no amount of trying will make it so.
Why? Why can’t it work here?
Because we are the United States of America. We’re different. We’ve always been different. That is why we became the “great melting pot.” For almost four centuries, men and women and children from all over the globe left their families, their homes, their jobs and businesses, and most of what they owned to come here. They sailed on cramped ships and crossed the oceans for one reason: freedom. They came here because America offered them the freedom to chase their dreams, to pursue happiness, to live their lives as free people, unshackled from the tyranny of their home countries and the bondage of their past. Most caught the happiness they pursued; some did not, but they failed as free men. That is what made America great.
Other countries are thousands of years old. Let us put this in perspective: construction on the great Gothic church in Milan, Italy, started 234 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, and wasn’t completed until after our War for Independence. Cities in Europe and around the rest of the world are old, and with that age comes both beauty and baggage. For example, the public transportation system in Europe is good because it has to be: the streets are narrow, many are cobblestone or brick, and there is simply not the space for cars that we have here. Look at the downtown of London, Hanover, and Rome and you’ll find claustrophobic roads, subway systems, and trolleys; large cities here in the United States like Los Angeles and Houston have 6- and 8-lane highways, multi-lane main streets going through the middle of downtown, and parking garages over 10 floors tall. Their roadways were built for horses and carts; ours were built for cars and trucks.
When our ancestors came to this country, they came to escape the failings of the countries they left behind. And when Thomas Jefferson put quill to parchment and penned the Declaration of Independence, not only did he express the outrage that the colonists had for the tyranny of King George, but he also expressed the core belief of the Founding Fathers: not only that all men should be free, but that the government should bow down to the will of the people, not the other way around. These beliefs were given foundation in law with the Constitution, which put shackles on the federal government instead of on the people.
While countries in Europe are still rooted in their past of kings and serfs, we have grown and flourished. We have become the most prosperous — and most generous — nation on the earth. While France and Germany struggle with double-digit unemployment, we have people coming here illegally through triple-digit heat in the desert just to pick tomatoes and earn less than minimum wage. While the British get put on waiting lists for MRIs, we can get one tomorrow if we need one. And while Europeans wait on the Tube and the trolley, we Americans hop in our 4-door sedans and SUVs with air-conditioning and CD stereo system and go wherever we want, whenever we want.
These are all manifestations of our freedom. And these are all reasons why what they do “over there” will never work “over here.” But that doesn’t stop people from trying to make them work. Our freedoms are are all endangered. They are endangered by those in this country who tell us that these are all bad things, that we are too greedy, and that we should be forced to share our wealth “more equitably” with the rest of the world. These people try to make us feel guilty for being successful, and try to make us feel embarrassed for the freedoms we enjoy. They feel we should be punished for our success. So they paint a rosy picture of how life is in these other countries, and try to convince us that we would be better off living like them, the descendants of kings and tyrants.
But we are America. Our forefathers gave us our freedom, and secured the vast expanse of land from sea to shining sea that we know as the United States. They did this so we could each pursue happiness, and so that most would catch it. But it is up to us to protect our prosperity, our success, and our freedom. We must ignore those who try to make us feel guilty. We must oppose those who want to force us to live by any other standard than our own. We must take pride in our land, our riches, our resources, our successes and our failures. We must take pride in our nation, in our forefathers, and in our heritage. And we must turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to those who call for us over here to be more like them over there.
For we are Americans.
And we must let America be America.