The three pillars of American exceptionalism
America has been for many years the beacon of freedom and hope for the world, and there are three key reasons for this exceptionalism: The Constitution, Capitalism and Religion. Our Constitution is the supreme law of the land and was designed to protect the moral foundation that all men are created equal with unalienable Rights from God, and its unique separation of powers allowing its citizens the Right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is like no other in the world. Capitalism, a political economic system based on private property rights and free markets, has created more widespread wealth than the world has ever seen before—and like magnets, draws hordes of immigrants and refugees hoping for a better life. The glue that holds everything together, however, is the third pillar--God and religious freedom. History has shown us that both our Constitution and Capitalism are designed only for a moral and religious people; absent specific ethical and religious values in the hearts and minds of the people, neither the Constitution nor Capitalism can function properly. This is a critical sentence; read it twice!
History has also shown us that no political economic system last forever. The nineteenth century was one of the bloodiest centuries in history, and the world had seen first the fall of national socialism during the wars between 1914 to 1945, and then the fall of communist socialism in 1989. Eastern Europe and the Third World was grasping for a new political economic system to adopt, when Pope John Paul II issued his encyclical Centesimus Annus in 1991 which professed the benefits of “Capitalism rightly understood.” The Pope had come to understand the American meaning of liberty as an “ordered liberty,” and favored Capitalism because it “was a structure based on a free political system, a free economy, and a culture of liberty—which recognizes the fundamental role of business, the market, private property and free human creativity.” He had concluded that capitalist virtues and institutions, whatever their faults, are the best available protection for democracy.
The American political economic system is now almost 250 years old now—and if history is any indication, its life span should be coming to an end. However, one should never count America down and out. In general, our citizens are a moral and religious people—and now we need to make sure our children grow up to be a moral and religious people. Putting God back in our schools would be a good place to start.
Steve Gardes is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA) with over 40 years of public accounting experience.