Thursday, November 05, 2015
Does America Really Share 'Core Values' ?
Of course, the top of the Democrat Party's ticket wasn't an especially strong candidate and, as a result, relied heavily on negative campaigning. Nevertheless, other candidates such as Adam Edelen, long thought to be a rising star, is now a bit dimmed. What we ended up with was a near sweep of the Constitutional offices by the Republican Party while the two Democratic wins were razor thin. So, congratulations to all the winners, and a special thanks to everyone who was willing to put themselves out there as a candidate. It's not easy. I know. I've done it a few times.
But if you think about it, that's not quite true. As Americans, we do seem to share some common beliefs. If you take a look at our Founding documents, such as the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, as well as some other key documents and speeches (TR's "Man in the Arena" speech comes to mind), we can glimpse what some of these common core values are, such as a liberty, equality and self-government. As a nation, we have a almost unshakeable belief in a higher power or Creator (74% believe in God or a higher power), who has bequeath to us certain rights (often referred to as "natural or unalienable rights" as defined by individuals such as John Locke). These natural rights aren't due to the good graces of some benevolent government or royal decree. They are ours as a basic irrevocable entitlement based on our common Humanity.
Another thing we as Americans seem to embrace is charity. Americans are among the most giving of any nation (ranked 13th in the world). We spend billions annually---$358 billion in 2014---helping people around the world and here at home (in 2013, the US Government gave $40.11 billion in aid, of which $8.03 billion was earmarked as military aid). We are quite individualistic, especially compared to other nations who think more in terms of the collective good, be it village, ethnic group or nation. It's part of our "up by our own bootstraps" mentality, and yet we tend to think of ourselves are part of various subgroups like Westerners, Northerners, Southerners, or New Yorkers or Californians and so forth.
There you have it. It appears we do indeed have a certain set of core values which unites as Americans; a belief in individualism and self-government, personal privacy, a level playing field and equal opportunity to succeed or fail based on our own efforts along with "healthy" competition, specific "inalienable" rights such as freedom of speech, religion, movement and thought innate to us as human beings, not to mention a strong work ethic and "can do" attitude, value of our leisure and informality. Some may add to that our sense of the value of our time and thus punctuality, the acceptance and normality of change, ability to own property, a representative government responsible to the people, and a right to participate in the political process as well as civilian control of the military and law enforcement.
As Americans, there is more which unites us than divides us, although to some we must remain divided as much as possible so that we remain distracted from what's really going on behind the scenes and more often than not, in our name...for our own good of course.
The University of Missouri-St. Louis. International Student and Scholar Services:
Key American Values
(July 17, 2013)
Time Magazine: What Are American Values These Days?
(July 4, 2012)
Everyday Sociology Blog: American Values: Are We Really Divided?
(March 21, 2011)
Gallup Poll: Majority in U.S. Still Say Moral Values Getting Worse
(June 2, 2015)
Theodore Roosevelt: Citizenship in the Republic/Man in the Arena
(April 23, 1910)