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It's the unanswered question. The timeless quandary: what made America so great? I've asked my students to answer that question and I always get a host of different answers. Google it online and you'll get an eclectic array of different responses. But as with so many other great mysteries explained with ease by The One, President Obama's recent deficit speech has set us all straight on why we should be so proud of our country.
Was it the technological breakthroughs that improved the quality of life of countless millions? No.
Was it the medical advancements that have extended life expectancy, cured diseases, and saved countless millions around the globe? No.
Was it the remarkable sacrifice and enduring courage of those who stood up to tyrants, toppled dictators and resisted communism's evil dominion? No.
So what was it that makes America so great, Mr. President?! He speaks:
In his highly anticipated deficit speech at George Washington University recently, Obama spoke of Social Security and Medicare and stated, "We would not be a great country without these commitments."
Of course! We weren't great until 1935 and 1965 (the enactment dates of those two programs, respectively). Any dunce knows that. Of course, not to question the wisdom of The One, but please recognize what that means:
So, for nearly 200 years (1776-1965), America was not a great nation in the eyes of the 44th President of the United States. Presidents Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln were among those who led a good nation, perhaps, but not a great one in Obama's eyes. Despite our growth from an infant republic in 1776 to the dominant nation of the world by mid-20th century, a period which included victories in two world wars, along with massive technological, industrial, and medical advances, still we were not a great nation according to Obama.
Attempting to calculate the impact America has had upon the rest of the world and to the betterment of the human race would be an exercise in futility, even prior to Social Security and Medicare. Countless lives have been saved through American medical advancements and breakthroughs. Production methods have been created and enhanced by American ingenuity and technological innovations, largely from Americans, have transformed the methods and speed by which we communicate around the world.
These are but a few accomplishments and defining qualities that have made America great.
It is these advancements and the potential for increased quality of life that has attracted and continues to entice so many to the United States. From 1850-1950, for example, 37 million individuals emigrated to the United States of America. They did not come to America seeking government programs. America provided opportunity to seek "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
Therein is the greatness of America-opportunity. It is opportunity to accomplish more than in any other country.
But not to our President. And that, as the author of this piece, Chad Stafko, points out, is the most concerning thing he said in that speech. President Obama defines American greatness by its government.
Never mind the fact that the two programs are unsustainable. Never mind that one is in the red and the other is depriving hospitals around the country of the full reimbursement of their services (to the point that many hospitals are beginning to deny treatment to Medicare patients).
President Obama wears the same blinders to those flaws that he wears to hide the enduring reality about American greatness: it's the people, not the government.
This president doesn't get that - never has. And that, in the end, is why far from being an articulate explainer of American greatness, he is one of its greatest threats.