Enough Americans still believe in America

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By Rob Witwer

Seems like there’s plenty to lose sleep over these days. We’re into the fourth year of the worst recession since the Great Depression. In Afghanistan, we’re a decade into an “operation” nobody seems to understand. Long-term fiscal obligations mount apace, pushing dangerously against the limits of mathematical sustainability.

And does it need to be said that the political class seems hardly up to the job?
In any other place in the world, I’d be worried. But this is America. And on this Fourth of July, it’s worth remembering that we’ve been through worse.
About three quarters of a million Americans died in a Civil War fought to vanquish the sin of slavery. Almost as many died in the wars of the next century. The Great Depression was nothing like what we face today, with millions of Americans displaced, unemployed and left to fend for themselves.
Through it all, Americans have proven more than up to the challenge. And so it is now.
This exceptionalism is rooted deeply in founding documents that contain our shared political DNA. The natural rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — articulated so famously in the Declaration of Independence — give hope and newfound energy to individuals in each generation of Americans, whether they’re descended from Mayflower passengers or recent immigrants.
Economic historian Niall Ferguson recently wrote that six characteristics set successful nations apart: competition; science; democracy; medicine; consumerism; and work ethic. Those elements still exist in abundance in this country (if occasionally under siege).
It’s been said that you can move to Germany or Italy, but that doesn’t make you German or Italian. But anyone can come to America and become an American … so long as they buy into the idea of this place.
Enough Americans still buy into the idea of this place that there’s hope for us yet. Just as there’s always been.

Rob Witwer is a former member of the Colorado House of Representatives and co-author of the book, “The Blueprint: How Democrats Won Colorado and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care.”