Saturday, June 8, 2013

What Are Core American Values?

What Are Core American Values?



President Barack Obama is described in the current White House Website as: “[T]he 44th President of the United States.  His story is the American story — values from the heartland.  The White House Website on May 21, 2009 stated: “…we enlist the power of our most fundamental values.” 


In his July 27, 2004, keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, the junior senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, stepped onto on the national stage with: “[T]his year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values and our commitments…His [candidate John Kerry’s] values and his record affirm what is best in us…”

And from his 2012 State of the Union address: “What’s at stake aren’t Democratic values or Republican values, but American values.  And we have to reclaim them.”  Again a year later (in his 2013 State of the Union address) he said, “…we must enlist our values in the fight.

“That’s the promise of America--the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation. That’s the promise we need to keep,” from the President’s Speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, August 27, 2008.

Our country has (mostly) rallied under an individual, Barack Obama, who in speeches and writings has emphasized concepts such as “values”, “core values”, “shared values”, the “American Dream”, and “the promise of America” with nary a definition of what they mean.

However, in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal September 30, 2012, during the presidential campaign, candidate Mitt Romney wrote, "our values have been misapplied – and misunderstood" by opponent President Obama.  But Mr. Romney never defined what the values were which President Obama misunderstood.

Most organizations, corporations and many people have mission statements built upon values or explicit value statements.  Shouldn’t a country, our country have them?  Clearly politicians do not want to be pinned down to specifics.  But don’t they owe it to us, those who pay their salaries and those for whom they (are supposed to) work?

But what would those values be?

It wouldn’t be any stretch of the imagination to admit that today the United States has none; no universal, agreed-upon values.  The operative thought is “agreed-upon”.   Our country may be separated into factions as rarely before, but even so, shouldn’t we consider trying to establish just what our values will be for the 21st century? 

There seemed to be an implicit set of values for our first 237 years, but modern times may dictate a reconsideration.  What about a national referendum on explicit American values to guide us for the next 237?  As renowned philosopher and American baseball icon Yogi Berra quipped, "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going because you might not get there." Or: “you'll wind up somewhere else“. 

This seems to be the state of America today: a bitter divide.  The original construct of the political system of the United States was brilliantly architected to encourage such division.  The divided government was supposed to lead to a chaotic legislative process wherein the issues of the day would be thoroughly debated and then thoughtfully compromised and decided.  Shared values then, of a belief in a Creator, a limited government of the people and a “respect to the opinions of mankind” were the thoroughfare which launched the most prosperous, free and moral society in the history of the world.

But is now a time when that experiment in government, 237 years of age, has become “destructive of these...certain unalienable Rights…[of] Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness?”  (As was written in the Declaration of Independence.)  While that July 4, 1776, paper was about the oppressive reign of King George III of England, many people think it could pertain to American society today.

Our Declaration of Independence continues, “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government...[that will] seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”  Is that what the so-called Progressives desire?  Is it surreptitiously taking place today?

The values of the Progressives are quite different from those original values on which the United States was founded, those in which many conservatives still believe.  But is it time for an open and explicit review, debate and vote on the values of our country?

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