About a month ago I wrote a post about a book by Dennis Prager, “Still the Best Hope: why the world needs American values to triumph.” According to Mr. Prager, there are three ideologies competing for the allegiance of humankind. They are: Islamism, Leftism and Americanism. He defines American values as 1) Liberty, 2) In God We Trust and 3) E Pluribus Unum, the three expressions which appear on all American coins. His trinity of ideologies and values helps me understand my own political framework. I consider myself to be a cultural Christian meaning that I identify with Christian values such as practicing the Golden Rule and trying to be a Good Samaritan rather than believing in any particular theological doctrines.
My social values are based on my moral and religious values. Americans have the good fortune to live in a very prosperous country with much personal liberty. But along with our freedom and prosperity comes responsibility. First of all, we are responsible for our own behavior. If we make bad choices, we have to accept the consequences and try to learn from our mistakes. We have greatly benefitted from the hard work of our forebears. In return it is our responsibility to leave the world a better place than we found it.
Just as my social values are consistent with my moral values, so do my social values determine my political values. I am a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. I consider it highly irresponsible for my generation to leave a huge, and growing, national debt for future generations. Either government should cut back on spending or it should raise taxes to pay for what it spends.
But I also consider it to be America’s responsibility, as well as in its own self-interest, to promote freedom and responsibility around the world. This is demanding, expensive and sometimes controversial but we need to be willing to do it. Likewise, we need to provide an adequate safety net for those among us who are truly unable to cope for themselves.
This is my first public attempt to describe the underlying values around which I organize and conduct my life. It’s a start but I’m pretty sure that I’ll be coming back to this theme again in the future!
Americans have the chance to “begin the world all over again” Thomas Paine, 1737 – 1809, Common Sense
As I reported in my last blog, I have been reading the relatively new book, “Still the Best Hope: why the world needs American Values to triumph” by Dennis Prager. His thesis is that there are three competing ideologies for the allegiance of humankind: Islamist, Leftist and American and, furthermore, that these three ideologies are incompatible. Any one of them succeeds at the expense of the other two. He identifies the American Trinity of Values as Liberty, In God We Trust, and E Pluribus Unum.
These three expressions appear on all American coins.
Liberty is the essence of the American idea
Liberty necessitates small government
The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen
i) Moral character begins with taking responsibility for oneself
ii) Reliance on the state creates a sense of entitlement
iii) The smaller the government, the more the individual is needed
In God We Trust
We are “endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights …”
Judeo-Christian Values, not Judeo-Christian Theology
i) People are not basically good
ii) God-based morality
iii) Holiness – we are not like other animals
iv) Hate evil
v) Material well-being is one of many values
E Pluribus Unum – From Many One
Nationalism – the opposite of multiculturalism
American Exceptionalism – the U.S. is qualitatively different from other nations
America is Good – not perfect but good in comparison with other nations
The above values are selected and abbreviated from Mr. Prager’s complete list, to most accurately reflect my own views. I strongly identify with these values which characterize America and its unique role in the world. We are the strongest, freest and wealthiest nation the world has ever known. For everyone’s sake let’s keep it that way!
I am currently registered as an independent. Ideologically I am a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. For most of my life I have been a registered Republican and have almost always voted Republican in national elections. But most of my friends are Democrats and I often agree with them on specific issues. So why do I identify more closely with the Republican point of view overall? I may have finally figured it out! I have just come across and read the provocative book, “Still the Best Hope. Why the world needs American values to triumph” by the public intellectual, Dennis Prager. Here is his message:
There are three ideologies competing for the allegiance of humankind. They are Islamist, Leftist and American. “Islamist” refers not to Muslims in general but those within the Muslim world who want to see the world governed by Sharia, or Islamic law. “Left” refers to the values associated with the western welfare state, secularism, and to contemporary socialist democratic parties. Americanism refers to the American Trinity of values: ‘Liberty,’ ‘In God We Trust,’ and ‘E Pluribus Unum’ which appear on all American coins.
The three ideologies are incompatible. Any one of them succeeds at the expense of the other two. All Islamists know this, many Leftists know this, but most Americanists do not know this.
Of the three, only Americanists do not proselytize.
One of the three is being promoted violently.
Leftism is a religion.
Americanism is the major impediment to Leftist success.
The impediments to the spreading of American ideals. Islamism and Leftism each dominate many countries. Americanism only dominates one country: America. Neither religious values, individual liberty nor market values are secure in America. Few are teaching the next generation of Americans what constitutes the American value system. The most important battle for American values is the ideological one within America.
Is there a fourth – Chinese – alternative? Either China will become a freer society or it will fail. It will have to affirm values beyond material success in order to succeed, as America has.
Such a stark framework as this hasn’t occurred to me before. But it makes sense and I totally identify with Americanism as opposed to Islamism or Leftism. This is not going to change the way I do things but it helps me understand why I am the way I am!