Arnold Schwarzenegger opens this clip of Milton Friedman’s film series “Free to Choose” with a statement that contrast the socialist country he came from to the freer society in the USA where he came to live in 1968. I am going to post several video clips from this film series that will demonstrate that our country allowed free enterprise to flourish without excessive government controls.
Jason Tolbert, Max Brantley and John Brummett all wrote interesting articles on the issue of American Exceptionalism during the fall after Tim Griffin and Joyce Elliott discussed the subject during the campaign.
I don’t think we are exceptional because of our people, land or resources. It must be because of two principles that have existed in this country for many years.
First, our country was founded on a reformation base. Francis Schaeffer pointed out in his film series, “How should we then live?” episode 5 on the Revolutionary Age: “As the reformation emphasis, that the Bible is the only final authority, took root the ordinary citizen was increasingly freed from arbitrary governmental power.”
Sadly our country has allowed humanism to take away many of the freedoms that our founding fathers meant for our country to have including prayer in schools. Did you know that 29 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence had seminary degrees? Futhermore, over 90% of the 250 original founding fathers claimed to be Christians according to their own writings.
Second, our country allowed free enterprise to flourish without excessive government controls. That was because the founding fathers saw the government as a necessary evil and not a positive force to be interfering with our lives.
This article today is the beginning of a series that I will be starting on the true secret behind the American Exceptionalism in our past. There is no denying that it existed in the past. Take a look at page 976 of the book A History of the American People by Paul Johnson (1997):
It is appropriate to end this history of the American people on a note of success, because the story of American is essentially one of difficulties being overcome by intelligence and skill, by faith and strength of purpose, by courage and persistence. America today, with its 260 million people, its splendid cities, its vast wealth, and its unrivaled power, is a human achievement without parallel. That achievement–the transformation of a mostly uninhabited wilderness into the supreme national artifact of history–did not come about without heroic sacrifice and great sufferings stoically endured, many costly failures, huge disappointments, defeats, and tragedies. There have indeed been many setbacks in 400 years of American history. As we have seen, many unresolved problems, some of daunting size, remain. But the Americans are, above all, a problem-solving people. They do not believe that anything in this world is beyond human capacity to soar to and dominate. They will not give up. Full of essential goodwill to each other and to all, confident in their human decency and their democratic skills, they will attack again and again the ills in their society, until they are overcome or at least substantially redressed. So the ship of state sails on, and mankind still continues to watch its progress, with wonder and amazement and sometimes apprehension, as it moves into the unknown waters of the 21st century and the third millennium. The great American republican experiment is still the cynosure of the world’s eyes. It is still the first, best hope for the human race. Looking back on its past, and forward to its future, the auguries are that it will not disappoint an expectant humanity.
Francis Schaeffer does a great job in three 9 minute clips of showing how the USA was founded on a reformation base. Here is the first clip: