Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Some say America is an idea

Many political speeches, such as the 2011 State of the Union Address given by President Barack Obama, have claimed that the United States is “the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea.” Obama defined this as “the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny.”

The origin of the phrase is unknown. The Civic Reader for New Americans (1908) had this: “We said the United States was founded on an idea. What is that idea? It is the idea of freedom.” Alistair Cooke in 1941 defined the idea as “republican democracy.” Margaret Thatcher is often credited for coining the phrase in 1991, when she said, “No other nation has been built upon an idea—the idea of liberty.” Several months later in 1991, President George H. W. Bush said, “America is the first nation in history founded on an idea, on that unshakeable certainty all men are created equal.”
And here:
It is a bipartisan commonplace to talk about America as a nation of ideas. House Speaker Paul Ryan declared in 2016 that the United States is “the only nation founded on an idea, not an identity.” President Barack Obama said pretty much the same thing when he won reelection in 2012. ...

But the image of the United States as a country of ideas suffered a severe setback in November, and it has been reeling ever since.
If America is an idea, what is that idea? There is no agreement.

What if it turns out that historical research shows that the idea is White Supremacy?

If it is an idea, does that mean that anyone who agrees with the idea is welcome to come here? If so, then presumably others are not welcome. How would anyone make the determination?

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