The irrepressible Mark Steyn discusses the American uniqueness of Thanksgiving in this NRO article. Steyn writes, “Americans should, as always, be thankful this Thanksgiving, but they should also understand just how rare in human history their blessings are.”
Of course the pessimists among us feel that the sheer fact that we enjoy such rare blessings is ample cause for self-flagellation. Steyn has a different take. He says that the USA is “is one of the oldest settled constitutional democracies on earth, to a degree “the Old World” can barely comprehend. Where it counts, Americans are traditionalists.”
Steyn recounts with his trademark irreverent humor how short-lived most other constitutional democracies in the world actually are. Then he accurately notes, “The U.S. Constitution is not only older than France’s, Germany’s, Italy’s or Spain’s constitution, it’s older than all of them put together.” Of course, many of us think our Constitution is in grave danger of being marginalized. Steyn doesn’t dismiss this when he writes:
“I don’t believe the U.S. Constitution includes a right to abortion or gay marriage or a zillion other things the Left claims to detect emanating from the penumbra, but I find it sweetly touching that in America even political radicalism has to be framed as an appeal to constitutional tradition from the powdered-wig era. In Europe, by contrast, one reason why there’s no politically significant pro-life movement is because, in a world where constitutions have the life expectancy of an Oldsmobile, great questions are just seen as part of the general tide, the way things are going, no sense trying to fight it. And, by the time you realize you have to, the tide’s usually up to your neck.”
I realize that it’s vogue among the elite and the Left to detest the USA nowadays, but I agree with Steyn when he says we should be highly grateful for our nation. Not only should we be grateful for it, but “on this Thanksgiving the rest of the world ought to give thanks to American national sovereignty, too. When something terrible and destructive happens — a tsunami hits Indonesia, an earthquake devastates Pakistan — the U.S. can project itself anywhere on the planet within hours and start saving lives, setting up hospitals and restoring the water supply.”
Steyn also argues in favor of using military might to achieve good, when he says, “If America were to follow the Europeans and maintain only shriveled attenuated residual military capacity, the world would very quickly be nastier and bloodier, and far more unstable. It’s not just Americans and Iraqis and Afghans who owe a debt of thanks to the U.S. soldier but all the Europeans grown plump and prosperous in a globalized economy guaranteed by the most benign hegemon in history.”
Former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) suggested that it is possible to love America, even while acknowledging her imperfections.
“Am I embarrassed to speak for a less than perfect democracy? Not one bit. Find me a better one. Do I suppose there are societies that are free of sin? No, I don’t. Do I think that ours is on balance incomparably the most hopeful set of human relations the world has? Yes, I do. Have we done obscene things? Yes, we have. How did our people learn about them? They learned about them on television and in the newspapers.”
The USA is far from perfect. But on this Thanksgiving, I agree with Mark Steyn and Senator Moynihan that she is a grand country. And I am exceedingly grateful for how blessed my life is because of her.