Saturday, December 24, 2011

Exceptional again?

Having reached the half century mark in 2011 I am starting to get the sense that I've been around the block a few times. Maybe this happens at a younger age for most people, but at last I feel like I have experience and some seasoning and maybe even a little wisdom. We start to see patterns and cycles in our culture and in our economics. These are things historians and professors thrive on. The rest of us come to see these things in the normal course of living our lives. We get to a point where we don't need to panic, and we can reassure younger folks that things will turn around. Up until the last few years I really thought that was true of this current "malaise" America finds itself in. Things will turn around, right?

If you read renown historian and thinker Victor Davis Hanson (and you should if you don't) you get the sense that history surely repeats itself and that the upside must be just around the corner. In a recent piece Hanson covers the things that America does better than any other culture in the world. We are left with a sense of optimism, convinced an American revival is assured. But I wonder...

It's no secret that I don't care for President Obama at all. Anything the man has done that is good is so overwhelmingly shadowed by the sense of American decline he actively promotes. It is beyond me how anyone, anyone can support his agenda of decline and opt for four more years of it. Each aspect of Mr. Hanson's argument for new round of American exceptionalism as it were is being undermined by the Obama agenda.

1. American petroleum engineers over the last decade have discovered radical new methods of recovering previously unknown or unreachable reserves of oil and gas. Contrary to all conventional wisdom, America’s natural-gas and petroleum reserves just keep growing. Suddenly, we have enough known natural gas to supply 100 percent of our domestic needs for the next 90 years — (Hanson)

The Obama Administration and it's EPA have done everything to make it more difficult to utilize North American energy. The delay of the Keystone pipeline may be the most publicized, but the EPA's rulings on C02, mercury and the process of fracking for oil and gas are not conducive to a domestic energy strategy. Push back on new and expanding energy extraction and a policy of actively subsidizing loser alternative energy technologies is making the U.S. weaker. Every one can see the beauty of the vision of alternatives to oil and coal, but starving ourselves will only make getting to the promised land that much harder.

2. We are worried that China may soon deploy one aircraft carrier. Yet the United States now has eleven enormous carrier groups, each one more powerful than all the other aircraft carriers in the world combined. In areas as diverse as drone and space technology, counterinsurgency, battlefield experience, air power, armor, and ship design, the American military is the best-armed, best-trained, and most lethal armed force around — (Hanson)

The cuts in military spending - especially to our navel forces - will make our forces smaller than at anytime since before WWII. The readiness and abilities of American military will be significantly reduced at a time when China is building theirs up. Can any one honestly say that China will be a more preferable hegemon?

3. A billion adolescents worldwide are growing up with Apple iPhones, iPods, and iPads; with Facebook accounts, Amazon online ordering, Google searches, and Walmart discount purchasing. These are not Russian, French, Chinese, or Japanese companies, but American inventions that uniquely appeal to the human desire for economy, ease of use, wide choice, informality, and transparency. No other country could have invented them — or the next generation to come. The idea of a Chinese-invented Google is a paradox, a Russian Facebook a joke, a Japanese-inspired Walmart impossible. (Hanson)

Here Hanson is right - the ideas, the vision of American business and entrepreneurs is unique and always has been. However, the decline Obama promotes is going to make the brilliant people throughout the world less inclined to come to or stay in America to build their dreams. Many great ideas and products conceived in America have been perfected elsewhere and have benefited the workers of foreign nations. Simply because the poor primary education system and a post secondary system that promotes humanities and lawyers over science and engineering how long can we expect supremacy in the "ideas" arena. The Obama agenda is more and more Federal control over all education.

4. Race, tribe, and religion tear many countries apart, notably in the Middle East and the Balkans. Yet at the other extreme, racially uniform nations like Japan and China seem clumsy when dealing with even tiny minorities, since they define their citizens not just by national allegiance, language, and locale, but by the way they look. America alone –albeit often in rancorous and messy fashion — has no particular national ethnic or racial profile. Even in postmodern Europe, the idea of a Barack Obama as president of France, or a Condoleezza Rice as foreign minister of Germany, is the stuff of fantasy. We will see no prime minister of China or Russia who does not look like the majority of Chinese and Russians — much less a Colin Powell. Most of the world will continue to have some sort of practical or romantic claim on America because of the fact that anyone can be not just an American, but a very successful American. (Hanson)

So true, America is the melting pot. It is the only country in the world of any size that can claim this distinction. But the Obama, himself of mixed race, is far from a "uniter". He subtly promotes a Balkinization that undermines the uniqueness of the America experiment. He clearly courts Hispanics by demonizing anyone who demands the Federal  government secure the border with Mexico. His policies have only hurt Black Americans, further eroding any sense of a light at the end of the tunnel for millions of urban denizens. He has done nothing to take advantage of his unique position in history to heal the wounds of the sins of the past. In this his failure is epic.

To put it mildly Barack Obama is not proud of his country, and there is much to be proud of. There much to be ashamed of too, but the uniqueness of our system is that is it designed to allow us to correct the wrongs. Obama doesn't care about healing or bridging the gaps, he only seeks to divide and rub salt in the wounds until America itself cries "I give up". That is what Obama wants and it has nothing to do with being exceptional again.



Tim Birdnow said...

We often forget what a magnificent place the United States really is. It's easy to fall into despair, thinking we are a wrecked nation, but the reality is we are still the greatest nation ever conceived, and everyone is still trying to get here.

Nice piece, Craig!