Thiessen: America is greater than 'just OK'

Thiessen: America is greater than 'just OK'

July 11th, 2019 by Marc Thiessen / The Washington Post Writers Group in Opinion Free Press Commentary

The Navy's Blue Angels soar over the Lincoln Memorial while the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" blares at the conclusion of President Donald Trump's speech during the "Salute to America" celebration for Independence Day in Washington on July 4, 2019. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)

Photo by ERIN SCHAFF

WASHINGTON — Maybe President Trump was right that we needed a "Salute to America" last week, because apparently some Americans have lost sight of the greatness of our country. Case in point: To mark Independence Day, The New York Times posted a video op-ed challenging what it called the "mythology" of American greatness. "America may once have been the greatest," the Times video declares, "but today, America, we're just OK."

The video is like a caricature of how conservatives think the left sees America — except it isn't a caricature; it's real. It's a straw man come to life. As evidence we're just OK, the video cites statistics showing that other developed countries, such as Luxembourg, Sweden and Norway, have lower poverty rates or better education and health care outcomes than America. And as for our "kick-ass democracy," the Times says, it's not that big a deal because "a lot of countries have freedoms."

Put aside for a moment all the misleading data the video uses to show America is not so great. The fact is, all the freedom and progress those other countries enjoy today would not be possible without the United States.

The reason that "a lot of countries have freedoms" today is because our Founding Fathers pioneered the principle of popular sovereignty, where governments answer to the people instead of the other way around. At the time of our founding, the rest of the world was ruled by monarchs. Our founders established the first country in human history that was built on an idea — the idea of human liberty."

For most of our history, American democracy was a global outlier. In 1938, on the eve of World War II, there were just 17 democracies. It was not until 1998 — just two decades ago — that there were more democracies than autocracies.

That dramatic explosion of freedom didn't just happen. It was the direct result of the rise of the United States as a global superpower. The U.S.-powered victory over Nazi tyranny in World War II and our triumph over Soviet tyranny in the Cold War defeated the hateful ideologies of fascism and communism, and unleashed a wave of freedom that has spread across the world. Today, 4.1 billion people live in democracies. (Of those who do not, four out of five live in China.)

The unprecedented expansion of liberty has produced unprecedented prosperity. Last September, the Brookings Institution reported that "for the first time since agriculture-based civilization began 10,000 years ago, the majority of humankind some 3.8 billion people, live in households with enough discretionary expenditure to be considered 'middle class' or 'rich.'"

None of that would be possible without the Pax Americana guaranteed by U.S. military. Americans liberated a continent, rebuilt much of it from the rubble of war with the Marshall Plan, and then stood watch on freedom's frontier and prevented a Soviet tank invasion across the Fulda Gap.

So, let's be clear: Every country that enjoys democratic governance today owes its birth of freedom to our Founding Fathers, and the continued existence of their democracy to the U.S. military.

Today, for all its flaws, America remains the freest, most innovative, most prosperous country in the history of the world. There's a reason we have a crisis on our Southern border; millions want to come here so that they can share in the abundance of American prosperity.

The men and women who flew those fighters and bombers over the Mall last week make it all possible. They provide the critical foundation of peace and security upon which our freedom, and the freedom of all the world's democracies, is built. Maybe Luxembourg scores better on some measures, but no one is counting on Luxembourg to secure the peace of the world. Trump was right to shine a spotlight on our men and women in uniform and to remind those who have lost sight of it that the United States is not simply the greatest nation on Earth; we are indispensable. Without us, the world would be mired in the darkness of totalitarianism rather than the light of liberty.

That is better than "just OK."

Washington Post Writers Group

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Comments Policy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Times Free Press web sites and any content on the Times Free Press web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Times Free Press, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Times Free Press websites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Phone: 423-757-6315
Email: webeditor@timesfreepress.com


Loading...