For a Canadian, American exceptionalism will always exist
Will the American experiment endure?
As many believe the country is in crisis, such a question will indeed be asked amid celebrations and be the subject of many reflections. Are there still reasons to be patriotic? Was America ever great to begin with?
In the current scene, there is word that confidence in America is decreasing. There are those who think Donald Trump poses a unique threat to its survival as he moves America towards the abyss with his warped understanding of the Presidency. There are those of more composed temperament who look objectively at the corrosive political culture that has manifested itself, of which Trump has been both a facilitator and a product. Of course, there is also the wokescolds that direct their tongue-lashings towards America’s foundations, and aspire to be the ones to dismantle them while giving voters a million and ten reasons to vote Trump back in. They are surely using the occasion to try and explain why their delusional insurrection must prevail. To them, America is nothing but a podium on which oppressors have stood to preserve their power and privilege while violating the “Other.” Such demagoguery has taken the broader culture, and many have embraced it as a way to adequately oppose Trump.
Seeing the opportunity for social aggrandizement, Nike has pulled a tennis shoe that had a design that included a Betsy Ross-era American flag. Obviously done to preemptively thwart an outrage campaign, this was at the behest of the quarterback turned activist Colin Kaepernick, who complained that it had offensive “racial undertones” and connections to slavery. “Very well, Comrade Kaepernick,” must have said the converted wokescolds at Nike. So, too, did some of the Democratic candidates, with a few of them urging Americans to be cognizant of the pain such a symbol might impose on minorities. Michael Eric Dyson, the academic and wannabe sesquipedalian who race-baits incessantly, took it up a notch by comparing the star spangled banner to the swastika. This incendiary rhetoric comes from a wretched view of the history of the American project—the same project that has granted Kaepernick and Dyson the opportunity to live a luxurious life while they defile it.
The mainstreaming of self-flagellation and masochistic denial of a country’s worth is sad to see, especially as a Canadian who loves America. Bastardizing American exceptionalism—the idea first articulated by Alexis de Tocqueville that America is a unique nation due to its founding ideologies and institutions—is common in the academy and has become more and more popular. I regretfully recall one of my professors expressing her glee that anyone arguing in favour of exceptionalism was losing influence. And you hear these sorts of things at the Oscars, on debate stages, and in most of the mainstream media. Narratives from which one can only gather that America is racist and malevolent are the ones that prevail. Constant self- criticism is necessary, but this phenomenon has given rise to a reflexive hatred of anything American. This is how a country loses sight of itself and its ideals.
In a recent video, the New York Times has ridiculed the idea of American exceptionalism, calling it a myth “packaged and sold to tiny patriots.” Why? Because some recent data shows that despite America being one of the richest countries, it has a high poverty rate compared to other countries, the educational system is abysmal, and less people are voting.
A rising number seems to think American exceptionalism is a propagandistic concept peddled only by brainwashed jingoists that are entranced by Donald Trump and know nothing of the outside world. But this evinces a comical misunderstanding of the concept they’re laboriously attempting to refute.
American exceptionalism isn’t measured by whoever the President is at the time, or how good the economy might be at the current hour. It is not contingent upon how America stands in terms of its material wealth. Though Trump might think of himself as having the prestige of a king that should rule by divine right, Presidents always have to change. And economies will always oscillate.
What makes America exceptional is its ideals, eternally codified in its Constitution, and aptly epitomized by Thomas Jefferson’s central proposal in the Declaration of Independence. In his mythogenic prose, he famously wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness.” And to secure these rights, “Governments are instituted Among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Deriving from this is the idea that rights are the antecedent to government, not the other way around. The government’s function is to protect these liberties, and the Constitution lays out a system by which a government can best do so. Knowing the novelty they had created, Jefferson once told James Madison that he was “persuaded no Constitution was ever before so well calculated as ours for extensive empire and self-government.” A bleeding heart may gasp at the mention of “empire,” but the contention is true. What makes the Constitution truly revolutionary is it’s understanding of human nature, and that there are natural ambitions that may lead to tyrannical pursuits. As Madison trenchantly put it in Federalist 51:
If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.
Therefore, the system and the Constitution are constructed in anticipation of someone with Donald Trump’s excesses. Despite all the mishaps and the existent need to rein in the executive branch, the Founders’ vision has proven to be durable for the most part.
And such things are reasons why I say, with confidence, that the American Revolution is simply the greatest revolution ever. Who can repudiate the product of George Washington’s honour, Thomas Jefferson’s ingenuity, and the genius of James Madison and Alexander Hamilton? I’ve heard people idolize the Communist and French revolutions, but can they argue in earnest that those did more for humanity? With their leaders seeing individuals as useful only as tools for the collective, and the large death tolls because of such repressive thinking, I think not.
The American ideal won the twentieth century conflicts against totalitarianism, and such a victory allowed freedom and prosperity to spread to all corners of the globe. But despite the good America has done, anti-American demagogues maintain that America was founded upon slavery, rendering it fundamentally immoral—a dangerous fiction. The American ideal won here, too. It’s a fact the Founders hypocritically owned slaves and never worked to end it like they could have, but they also acknowledged its inherent evil and desired its eventual eradication. One example of this is that in an early draft of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson lambasted King George and the horrors of slavery:
He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation hither.
What is also at odds with the notion that America is scrofulous at its root is the fact that those whose legacy the woke types think they’re honouring didn’t rebuke the American ideal, they embodied it. Frederick Douglass, for example, called the Constitution a “GLORIOUS LIBERTY DOCUMENT”—a great weapon for abolition—and deemed slavery a betrayal of it. Martin Luther King Jr. once described his mission as one to bring the nation back to the “great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in the formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.” Emancipation and civil rights were a fulfillment of the American ideal, not a repudiation of it.
I also write all this because of the Canadian anti-Americanism that has always existed, but has increased in the age of Trump. To some extent, some Canadians have often held a supercilious view of Americans. And this may be because of our origins. We essentially attained our right to self-government peacefully, while the Americans embarked on a turbulent revolution to achieve independence. Out of our origins, as people like Seymour Lipset observed, Canadians may have a more positive, communitarian vision of the government whereas the American ideal is more individualistic, extolling a more negative, anti-statist view of the government. Some, like George Grant (for whom I have tremendous respect as a thinker), have been hostile towards America, thinking it has had a detrimental influence on Canada. I disagree. While we must always remain our own nation, there is no denying that our continental relationship has been profitable. Besides, there’s much we should be envious of when it comes to the American practice of limited government.
Take our approaches to speech. The First Amendment states plainly that the government cannot design laws that will curtail freedom of speech, thereby codifying an absolutist attitude. While Section One of the Charter declares that all guaranteed rights could be subjected to “reasonable limits” as can be “demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.” The consequences of these differences have had particular salience recently. While Trudeau has joined censorship initiatives like the Christchurch Pact, the American government has rejected them as the law of the land demands it does.
As the march for free speech continues, having such a bulwark against government intrusion would obviously be an asset.
But this is only a smidgen of the reality that might be inconvenient to America’s detractors. Though it might be heretical to say this, America will always remain the grandest protector of liberty.
With this said, Americans mustn’t become amnesiacs, and allow their inheritance to be desecrated. They should remain optimistic since they have more to be proud of than ashamed of. Their Constitution and ethos continues to be an example for freedom-lovers the world over, and they should always be reminded of that. I, as a Canadian, believe in American exceptionalism, and Americans should, too. For it existed before Trump and wokeness, and will continue to after the curtain is closed on both. The foundation Jefferson and Co. laid almost 300 years ago is imperishable.
Americans should always rejoice in their remarkable achievements and the tradition that was so studiously established by their founders. And should not only do so this week, but daily. On that note, happy birthday, America!
What a wild couple of weeks it has been for broadcasting legend Don Cherry. After getting fired on Remembrance Day for his controversial “You people” comments, Cherry went on a media no-apology tour, making it clear that he meant what he said, though he wishes he could have phrased it a little more eloquently.
Now Cherry is back, on his own podcast The Grapevine, featuring none other than his son, Tim Cherry, as co-host.
Cherry’s first episode didn’t shy away from all the controversy that got him in this situation in the first place — in fact, it was the main topic in Cherry’s debut, which lasted nearly half an hour.
The podcast, which was made available on Spotify Tuesday morning, opened with a short conversation about his family’s time in Boston, before diving into the fiasco surrounding Cherry’s last ten days as a sports broadcaster—which has perhaps been some of the most interesting in the last forty years.
On the topic of Ron MacLean, who has publically apologized for nodding along with Cherry’s comments, Cherry said he was “disappointed with MacLean,” but stated that they were “still friends”.
Shortly after, the Cherrys started discussing Don’s firing from Sportsnet, explaining that he attempted to clear the air with the company, wanting to “explain himself”. Cherry was not ready to make an apology, though, which ultimately may have been his demise.
“I just couldn’t do it,” said Cherry. “Everybody in Canada should wear a poppy,” going on to add, “We have the best country in the world.”
Cherry, 85, outlined how he, for the first time in decades, is unemployed, besides the rebooted Grapevine.
Tim Cherry told the Toronto Sun the game plan is to record the podcast on Mondays, and release it throughout the hockey season.
Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party (UCP) have denied accusations of electoral interference after moving to fire Alberta’s election commissioner, according to the CBC.
This comes in the middle of an investigation into the UCP’s “kamikaze” electoral tactics in their party’s leadership election.
The UCP has planned to combine both the election commissioner’s office with the province’s chief electoral officer. This comes after the election commissioner levied $200,000 in fines towards the party.
Responding to this, the Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley said the UCP’s plan “reeks of corruption. It reeks of the sort of entitlement and self-dealing the conservatives became known for … It’s an abuse of power.”
The NDP’s strong reaction may be a result of them creating the election commissioner’s office in the first place. Many of the NDP’s complaints may be regarded as partisan rather than a serious electoral concern.
The UCP, however, have brushed off these accusations. One UCP spokesperson, for instance, stated that the move to unify the two offices only had to do with increasing government efficiency.
Premier Jason Kenney is yet to comment on the bill’s controversy.
Chrystia Freeland will no longer serve as foreign affairs minister, as the job will instead go to Saint-Maurice—Champlain MP Francois-Philippe Champagne.
Champagne served as minister of infrastructure and communities in the Trudeau government’s last parliament, and will be replacing cabinet faithful Chrystia Freeland. Champagne, who also worked as a trade lawyer, has served as minister of international trade in the past.
It is not yet known what position Freeland will be moved to, though it has been rumoured by sources that she will serve as deputy prime minister.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will make a formal announcement on Wednesday afternoon to unveil his new cabinet at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
Additionally, North Vancouver MP Jonathan Wilkinson will serve as the new environment minister, according to Radio-Canada. Pablo Rodriguez will be government house leader, and Steven Guilbeault will serve as the new heritage minister, according to CBC-Radio Canada‘s sources.
Montreal native Erick Marciano was honored by the city in Montreal after using his SUV to shield pedestrians from a speeding car. Marciano acted with bravery in a split-second decision to use his SUV to shield pedestrians from a car fleeing from police that was heading directly towards a busy intersection.
Marciano, a 48-year-old father-of-three told CTV News that “I figured I had to act,” after he saw the vehicle speeding towards the defenseless pedestrians. His mind immediately went to the terrible stories in Europe of drivers running over pedestrians and he rushed to act to prevent the same thing from happening in Montreal.
Marciano proceeded to honk his horn and put his SUV in front of the speeding driver before managing to get out of his car moments before the collision. The 19-year-old suspect who Marciano managed to stop was arrested and is now facing charges for his role in the incident.
Marciano, a general contractor has been incredibly humble about the incident, telling CTV It was just a natural thing to do, and if I had to do it again, I would do it again.” His wife Michelle commented on his modesty and selflessness at the ceremony honouring her husbands deed “He’s always thinking about others and always puts himself before others, so it’s just something he does.”
Marciano was given a certificate of honor by mayor Valérie Plante, telling journalists, “To commit such a bold act, at the risk of his personal safety, to protect the life of pedestrians is among the most admirable acts of bravery.” He was also given the honour to sign his name in Montreal’s Golden Book, which he said was last signed by climate activist Greta Thunberg.
When Michelle was asked if she would lend her SUV to her husband she told CTV while laughing: “Never, ever.”