David Reynolds: One America!

Column by David Reynolds
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How was your coffee this morning? If it was a special blend it was likely very good. If not, if there was no theme, you may have spit it out.

Next Question: How do you believe the experiment is going? You know, the great American experiment. You have a long Fourth of July weekend to come up with an answer. So please spend a few minutes between the fun and games to consider why the United States of America is the envy of the world, why our enemies are so envious of us that they wish to destroy us.

The answer to both questions is the same: It depends on the blend. With coffee it is the beans; with America it is the people. This nation has done special things because we are a special blend of people. This blend of individual responsibility, high self-esteem and opportunity has taken us to heights we never imagined 234 years ago.

We will celebrate America because its people are far greater than the sum of its 310 million individual parts. Its not the economy, stupid, its the chemistry. We follow the old duPont Company slogan, “Better living through chemistry.”

How so? Our revolution was from below. This Fourth we need to give thanks to those with fire in their bellies. They were the ones who deserve a big pat on the back, more so than those who lived on the grand Virginia estates of Mount Vernon, Monticello and Montpelier.

Nonetheless, conventional accounts of the American Revolution emphasize those names with which we are very familiar. But the emphasis should be on the common man, who was anything but common.

Let’s face it, our original leaders were elitists. They had disdain for those who start revolutions without someone high on a horse telling them to, “Follow me!” The upstarts from the colonial outback did not wait around to listen to Patrick Henry’s exhortations or the learned words of John Adams before they took up arms and headed for Boston, then fired a few shots heard ‘round the world from that other Lexington.

This all happened almost two full years before our Virginia neighbor took pen to paper. Yes, the farmers of the New England countryside let their actions speak ahead of Mr. Jefferson’s words. These poorly educated and unsophisticated folks were way ahead of the game.

As a result, our revolution was home grown, just like a good tomato.

Does any of this sound familiar? It should. Today we still have an elite East which believes that it alone can run the big show. Key top jobs in Washington tend to go to those who graduate from certain schools. Others need not apply. On October 4 we will have all nine sitting Supreme Court justices from just two Ivy League law schools, a scant 150 miles apart. Have we merely substituted Harvard and Yale for Oxford and Cambridge? And the nation’s financial capital has moved down the Amtrak tracks from New York to Washington. No wonder elitists call the rest of the USA, “Fly over country.”

What about Afghanistan? An endless political campaign has produced our longest war. Sacking commanding generals (two have been fired) doesn’t usually work — unless a commander-in-chief is also sacked. Doesn’t this White House believe in anything — besides themselves? Don’t they know that the Taliban do not wear watches?

Anyone for a second revolution? Hop aboard! The bandwagon has already started its engines. This one welcomes all classes. No more first-class only tickets for “the best and brightest.”

Yet historians and local historical societies love to focus on the rich and famous. They overlook the man on the street. Or those who cry out from Chicago. They failed to catch a defining moment when CNBC’s Rick Santelli shouted into my television set,”We need another Boston tea party.” Rick and America’s heartland wasn’t about to let capitalism capitulate to those who think that America should be more like Europe, that the New World should be more like the Old. Don’t you love those Italians!

Now we have a groundswell movement that is mistakenly called conservative. It is anti-elitist! And the elitists don’t get it. They still believe that their cool, well trained heads are all that are needed to make this a better country. They believe that they are best equipped to speak for the classes beneath them – which, of course, they define as all classes. Were they not satisfied when they turned the great political party of the people (my former party) on its head? The 1972 McGovern nomination was a revolution in reverse.

And here I thought brave men, women and children sailed an uncharted ocean in order to get away from the class distinctions of the Old World.

So how do we finally rid ourselves of those who practice class warfare? It won’t be easy, but try this. Keep throwing those rascals out. (In the past eight months we have made a good start.) And when we get tired of the new rascals we put into office, throw them out, too! Keep plastering new faces on campaign posters. If we do this, there will be no need for term limits. We — the people — will be in charge.

Get involved! Instead of pitchforks, use computer chips. Send those emails. Talk to friends and neighbors. But do that talking face to face. Never be afraid to voice an opinion. If you don’t, America will just be filled with good people who did nothing – until it was too late.

If you do the above your great-grand kids may read about you in their history books. But don’t count on it. You may be the unknown soldier, that New England farmer without a name. But that’s okay. You followed the orders first given on July 4, 1776. You pursued happiness.

Boy, what a great country!

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