Reagan Understood Better than Most What It Means to Be American:
American Idea, American Identity
- What does it mean to be an American?
by Alexandria Tea Party
July 4, 2016
How many times in the last year have we heard the President say, “That’s not who we are.” ‘Don’t put limits on immigration,’ even though we’ve done it in the past - that’s not who we are. ‘Don’t cut off funding to universities that show left-wing bias’ - that’s not who we are. The President has used this phrase so often that someone put together a video montage of him saying 46 times, “that’s not who we are.”
So who are we? What does it mean to be an American?
The American Story
One chapter in the American story is Samuel Whittemore who fought the British at Lexington and Concord at the age of 79. He was shot in the face, bayonetted, and left for dead in a pool of blood. He was found trying to load his musket to get back in the fight. He died of natural causes 18 years later. The American story is the ‘Winter of the Red Snow’ at Valley Forge where only one in three of our soldiers had shoes, but they persevered. It’s William Bradford who, as governor of Plymouth Colony rejected what we today would call communism and saw his people flourish after he instituted property rights - private ownership of land. It’s the story of Elijah McCoy – the “real McCoy” – who invented the lubrication for locomotive steam engines. It’s the wreck of the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor, where nearly 1,200 sailors and Marines died - the only wreck the U.S. Navy salutes when passing by. It’s the story of Fred Cherry, a black Air Force pilot, held prisoner of war in Vietnam for seven years who suffered solitary confinement and torture. He never let himself be used for propaganda purposes despite having experienced segregation earlier in life. Another important part of our story is the American Dream, where each generation, with hard work and the sweat of their brow, can be better off than the one before.
But it’s no accident we Americans have produced greatness – great leaders like Washington and Lincoln, revered the world over. No accident we have produced the greatest country in the history of the world. No, Mr. President, American Exceptionalism is not like Greek exceptionalism. American Exceptionalism comes from our founding ideas. We are a country that has always wanted to be free, from the very beginning. We have expended great quantities of blood and treasure to stay that way, and to help others remain free. We are great because we are free. We rule ourselves. No one person or small group of people rules over us. We have a respect for the Rule of Law that binds us together. We have a tradition of individual rights made possible by an underlying philosophical tradition of elevating the individual. This is the great contribution of the Judeo-Christian tradition to American Identity – the dignity and worth of the individual. Without it, we could not have adopted our founding documents whereby the government is subordinated to the individual. In America, as Ronald Reagan observed, the state serves the individual, the individual does not serve the state. One of our rights is religious liberty. The early colonists came to our shores seeking religious liberty. In our system, the government is not supposed to tell us what to think or believe. Religious liberty is foundational. It’s in our DNA. Freedom of conscience is who we are. Or have been, up to this point.
Storm Clouds Gathering
America is under attack. There are people and forces at work in this country that seek to destroy it. They will use any political issue and any means at their disposal to get to where they want to go. They have deliberately been stripping away the foundation of America for decades, and the pace of their activities has accelerated, recently. They are getting increasingly brazen because they think they are sprinting toward the finish line.
Who are these people? They are the educators who remove America’s founding ideas from government schools and replace them with vague collectivist notions like ‘world citizenship’. They are Elena Kagan who as dean of Harvard Law School replaced constitutional law with international law as a required course. They are Michael Moore and the Boston police chief who said ‘We are all Muslim’, even though totalitarian sharia law is completely incompatible with the First Amendment and the rest of the Constitution. They are the political Left which has taken over the Democratic Party. Their ultimate aim goes by any number of names – socialism, communism, fascism, plutocracy, oligarchy, crony capitalism, one-party rule. But let’s just cut to the bottom line. They are totalitarians. They want total government. They want the individual, religion, and every other conceivable repository of political power to knuckle under to government. What the leaders of this movement really want is what every tiny political elite before them has wanted – wealth and power for themselves. They are only in it for themselves. To serve their own self-interest, they would turn the clock back to a time when We the People were not sovereign but ruled by someone else. They are counter-revolutionaries. The American Revolution was fought so that We the People could be free and rule ourselves. Going back to being subjects under a dictatorship, or serfs in a collectivist bee-hive run by a tiny few, would reverse the American Revolution. It would destroy the American Idea, and American identity along with it.
But this is exactly what the people who hate America and want to destroy it wish to do. One of their weapons is identity politics which divides us into little groups of hyphenated-Americans. It balkanizes us into splinters, so that national identity and common ideals become much harder to maintain. It produces large voting blocs – such as blacks, gays, and Jews – who typically vote 80 percent or more Democrat.
But identity politics is not an accident. It’s a weapon of war and a very successful one. It has certain ingredients that have come back more recently in the latest Leftist assault on American identity, discussed below. First, identity politics elevates the group over the individual. It promotes group rights over our tradition of individual rights. It smashes individual identity and replaces it with an artificially constructed identity that controls how people think and vote.
Second, it is psychological manipulation. It preys upon the fear that every person has of being alone. Join a group and you’ll never have to be alone again. If you’re too weak to stand on your own two feet or think for yourself, no problem, the group will do it for you. Membership has its privileges. The Left knows most people want to belong to something larger than themselves. They’ve subverted or pulled down the institutions that have historically met those needs – the family, religion, civil society – and plugged in new institutions: the victimhood and grievance industry, modern Judaism which for all intents and purposes is indistinguishable from liberalism, and gay pride. No offense to gay people, but many have uncritically swallowed the gay identity that the Left has handed them without considering there are other ways to be gay. Being homosexual doesn’t have to mean that you have to reflexively hate conservatives or vote Democrat.
Identity politics was just the beginning. Groupthink and psychological manipulation have come back with a vengeance in the transgender debate which exploded this year. Ground Zero in the debate is right next door to us in Fairfax County which will now teach gender spectrum and gender fluidity in its public schools. Fairfax schools are influential; a policy adopted there is likely to be adopted elsewhere in the country. Transgenderism is also coming at us through Obamacare and, just this week, the military.
Let’s be very clear: Transgenderism needs to be discussed, not as a social issue, but as a limited government issue. It is discussed here, not out of ill will for transgender people – they are just pawns in a larger game - but because the implications for our freedom are profound and have not been analyzed correctly or received enough attention. If you go away from this thinking Tea Partiers hate transgender people and just want to rant about social issues, you will have mischaracterized the argument and missed the point entirely.
Sorry, but confusion is a weapon. If they can confuse you about whether you are a boy or a girl, they can confuse you about anything. Transgenderism is not just some political issue that came up by accident, that people disagree about. It’s a guided missile sent by the Left to blow us up. It’s part of a deliberate military-style assault against the people by the hard Left to redefine everybody and everything in order to take control, just like the Soviets did with their utopian efforts to remake society completely. Transgenderism is social engineering. It’s fundamental transformation. It’s the New Soviet Man all over again.
It’s coercive – it uses the machinery of government to crush all who resist. It elevates a group and the government over the individual. It confuses people about who they are and robs them of one of the most important aspects of their personhood, one of the most important ingredients in what makes them unique. It replaces that natural uniqueness with a government-issued identity, one that is found along a government-approved spectrum and about as solid as quicksand. It puts government in the middle of how we relate to one another, where it doesn’t belong – not as men and women, but as something else, one of the 57 genders. The new ways of relating come complete with new pronouns we must use or pay the price. The new ways set up a group with government-issued special rights and consequences if people don’t jump to the government’s tune. Most insidiously, transgenderism tells you what to think and what to believe, completely contrary to freedom of conscience which is such an essential part of the American Idea and identity.
Religion WILL knuckle under to government. Your identity WILL be reconstructed along government-approved lines. Society WILL be perfected as government engineers in Washington specify it to be. Not only will you learn to obey Big Brother, you will learn to LOVE Big Brother when he tells you all of this is cool. Mere obedience is no longer good enough for the Left. Your thinking must change or you are guilty of a hate crime. Accommodation is no longer good enough for the Left; you must believe in the transgender religion or the government will crack your head if you don’t.
Confusion. Coercion. Identity construction. Collectivism. Thought control.… Transgenderism is the perfect vehicle to get the Left to where it wants to go, and that’s why transgenderism became the Left’s weapon of choice. There is much more at stake here than being nice to transgender people. You can dress it up in civil rights and inclusiveness talk, but that’s just to distract you from what’s really going on. This isn’t the Tea Party ranting about social issues. We’re talking about the foundations of civilization and whether we will have government at the center of our lives where it doesn’t belong. It’s not a social issue; it’s a totalitarianism issue. How we got to this point is not cultural decay or the ‘Decline of the West’. It’s the West deliberately being pushed off a cliff.
Where does it say in the Constitution that the government is in charge of identity formation? Where does the Constitution give the government the power to enforce thought control? Why should the government replace parents, families, and civil society as the font of all morals and values? Why should the government get to ram what is essentially a state religion down our throats? If limited government is to mean anything, the Left cannot be allowed to prevail on the transgender issue. We’ve seen this kind of thing from the authoritarian Left before – the New Soviet Man which led to the crack-up of the Soviet Union a few short decades later. The utopian Khmer Rouge who emptied Cambodian cities because they didn’t want anybody living there, snuffing out the lives of millions in the Killing Fields that followed. Chinese died by the tens of millions in the engineered famine of Mao’s Great Leap Forward. ‘Violence is my ideology, coercion is my sword.’ That’s the history of the Left, and it shows that the only way to utopia is through terror. Terror is the real creed of the authoritarian Left. And the same ingredients – utopia, coercion, forced beliefs – are swirling around in the transgender debate. Do you think the terrorists or the generals in charge of North Korea’s missiles are confused about their gender identity? Not likely. Transgenderism has national security implications. How much of this can we afford? Confusion is a recipe for paralysis and defeat.
‘Be More Like Europe’
The people telling us ‘that’s not who we are’ are the same people who say we should be ‘more like Europe’. But Europe is a prime example of what happens when a people becomes confused and loses its way. The German Left will tell you that German culture is defective and must be destroyed – just look at what the Germans did in World War I and II. The Germans need to hand their country over to somebody else, the German Left says. This is suicidal; it’s a death wish. Other European countries are having their own identity crises. They are letting in hordes of refugees from incompatible cultures who have no intention of assimilating. Britain has 88 sharia courts where English common law does not apply and women have few, if any, rights. Stockholm is now being called the ‘rape capital of the world’. Western liberal democracy as practiced in Europe is morphing into something else – top down directives from faceless, unaccountable technocrats in Brussels who think open borders are great. These technocrats cannot be reached through the ballot box.
Europe stands as a cautionary tale. Being ‘more like Europe’ is the last thing we should aspire to be. We must not lose our identity or we will end up like them. The Brexit vote is a sign that Europe might finally be waking up to the danger. We can only hope.
The Way Ahead
How do we get out of this mess and reclaim what it means to be an American?
First, guard your own identity. If you don’t know what you stand for, you’ll fall for anything. Check yourself to see whether your ideas are coming from a source you trust, or it’s just the government shoving them at you. We don’t need lectures on who we are from people who are hell-bent on fundamentally transforming us, and remaking society in their own image. We don’t need them telling us who to be. We need a Brexit from government identity formation and thought control. We need to take charge of our own intellectual and moral development, once again.
Second, challenge the Left’s crazy ideas wherever you find them. ‘Tear down the Constitution’? And replace it with what, exactly? Name the game – if someone tells you that you should think a certain way or put group identity over individual identity, point it out and tell them you don’t appreciate being manipulated. Point out that you belong to a larger group – the 40 percent of Americans who self-identify as conservative or libertarian, the group that believes in small government.
Third, weaponize history. Totalitarians always try to wipe out history. But we can tell the great, inspiring stories of Valley Forge and the black patriots of the Revolutionary War. We can show the young that the Left is trying to take their inheritance away from them without them even realizing it.
Fourth, support the Tea Party. We are fighting for your freedom every day. We promote limited government at every opportunity; it’s one of our core values. We try to reach the ideologically fluid and make first principles part of their thinking again. One first principle is very basic – We the People are supposed to rule ourselves. We are not supposed to have a totalitarian government thrusting itself into every corner of our lives and our minds. Identity formation and thought control – this is where the Left wants to take you, and totalitarian government is where it leads. The Tea Party has been accused of not wanting change. This is inaccurate. What we say is that real change must be genuine, organic, and from the bottom up – not engineered or forced on us by utopian totalitarians in Washington who view us as just so much play-dough to be molded any way they wish.
Help the Tea Party create more constitutionalists. This is now a major focus of Alexandria Tea Party. We support school programs that teach the Constitution, and we work to restore the foundation every way we can. We are a constitutional revivalist movement, not just another group of conservatives and libertarians. If you think the Rule of Law is better than a pen and a phone, join us and help us.
We have to fight the American Revolution all over again. It will not be easy, but we are not the first generation of Americans to face a difficult challenge against long odds. Our Founders took on the most powerful military on earth. It will take more than a Barack Obama to fundamentally transform America. Which would you rather do – stare down a bunch of crazy Leftists on the Supreme Court steps, or be in the snow at Valley Forge without any shoes?
Who we are depends on what we think. The American identity depends on fidelity to the American Idea. Lose the Idea and we will lose our way. Discard the Idea and we will eventually live under totalitarian government and become what utopian totalitarians want us to be.
Unlike the utopians, the Tea Party cannot promise you perfection. But we can promise you the most coherent, humane, and sustainable political philosophy ever devised - freedom, self-rule, and individual rights. We Americans have chosen this philosophy and we have been living by it for 240 years. That’s who we are.
46 Times President Obama Told Americans ‘That’s Not Who We Are’
The rule of law has made us who we are. Versus a pen and a phone
Virginia public school system declares it will teach gender spectrum and fluidity. Fox News
City speech codes fine employers, landlords, and businesses for not referring to transgender people with pronoun of choice. Truth Revolt