What America Will We Give to the Future?

Ed Hudgins's picture
Submitted by Ed Hudgins on Wed, 2015-07-01 03:41

What America Will We Give to the Future?
By Edward Hudgins

June 30, 2015 -- Will future generations look back on our current July 4th festivities and lament that we didn’t grasp that the republic was gone?

Or will they celebrate that we were energized to restore the republic?

Liberty that empowers

Our country was established in 1776 on the premise that we all are endowed “with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

The Constitution created a government of limited and enumerated powers, checks and balances, and federalism to protect individual liberty not only from threats foreign and domestic but also from the greatest threat to liberty of all: government itself.

The result: America went from a rural backwater to the richest and most innovative country the world had ever known. This was because individuals were free to pursue their own dreams and to make their own lives through their own productive efforts.

Political liberty was spiritually liberating, opening minds to the fact that they could flourish, that material poverty and personal impotence need not be their lot. Millions of immigrants came to these shores seeking that liberty. They both partook of and contributed to the culture of self-ownership, empowerment, and personal responsibility.

Even up until a few decades ago, most supporters of the welfare state still held that individuals should generally run their own lives, that property rights and free markets should be protected by government. They simply believed—mistakenly—that government would need to step in to provide a safety net for unfortunates who might fall through the economic cracks or to rein in businesses that get too big and threaten competition.

Powerful elites

Today, the elites who dominate the Democrat Party, media, and academia believe government should be all-powerful and that they, the elite, should direct our lives. While some give lip service to empowerment, they in fact believe that most individuals are incapable of running their own lives. This is not idle rhetoric. It is a description of what motivates these elites. And it points to the dark place they are leading us.

As the scope and power of government grows, every aspect of our lives and our every choice become a matter of political conflict—what we eat, how we educate our children, what we can plant in our gardens, and when our children can run a lemonade stand. Political power and pull rather than productive achievement become the coin of the realm, determining who gets what. The result is the ugly, crony system of today.

Power to the individual

But there is pushback because the American spirit is still alive.

Today it is not only Tea Party activists who are skeptical about government. Political independents and many young people have seen the promises that government can radically improve our lives coming to naught.

Within the GOP there is now a civil war. Libertarian and limited government Republicans, who want to roll back government, are exerting their influence. They are challenging establishment Republicans, who want to keep the welfare state, just tweaking it to make it more efficient, and extreme social conservatives who give priority to actually limiting personal liberty.

In recent decades we’ve see the rise of new entrepreneurs who created the information and communications revolution and are now sparking revolutions in other areas as well—robotics, nanotechnology, genetics, 3-D printing and manufacturing, life extension, and much more. These individualists understand the power of human reason to change the world for the better. They love and take pride in their work. And they want to be free to pursue their own dreams and to make their own lives through their own productive efforts.

They manifest the best of the American spirit. They represent hope. They offer a political opportunity for those who want to restore the republic that is necessary if these entrepreneurs are to continue to achieve in the future.

A powerful vision

In the past, the liberty in America offered millions the opportunity to win for themselves prosperous and fulfilling lives. The country offered a powerful vision of hope for all of a world as it can be and should be.

Today, we still have the opportunity to reclaim for ourselves that liberty, which will secure the thanks of future generations, if only we seize the moral high ground and fight for the values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness set down in the Declaration.

Hudgins is a senior scholar and director of advocacy at The Atlas Society.


William Thomas and Edward Hudgins, “The Volcker Rule and the Two Americas.” December 18, 2013.
David Mayer, “Completing the American Revolution.” June 23, 2010.
Edward Hudgins, “Let's Declare the Fourth of July a Tax-Free Day!” July 4, 2007.
Edward Hudgins, “What Unites America? Unity in Individualism!” June 30, 2004.
William Thomas, “What Are Rights?
Edward Hudgins, “ What Is An American?” July 3, 1998.

The Davy Crockett "Republic" speech from "The Alamo" movie

Ed Hudgins's picture

John Wayne expressed it so well:

'Republic'. I like the sound of the word. It means people can live free, talk free, go or come, buy or sell, be drunk or sober, however they choose. Some words give you a feeling. 'Republic' is one of those words that makes me tight in the throat - the same tightness a man gets when his baby takes his first step or his first baby shaves and makes his first sound like a man. Some words can give you a feeling that make your heart warm. 'Republic' is one of those words.

Great insights, all of you

mvardoulis's picture

My favorite sentence is Kyrel's "The Republican and Democratic parties need to be brutally smashed." - that's just all kinds of KASS awesome. I see Lindsay's resistance to "cultural terrorism" as the much needed "extreme pull" back to civilization from the brink. The "center" of "the masses" never move under their own inertia, they are literally through state educational "systems" programmed to be led, and unless there are voices in the wilderness crying out against the pull of the intentional cultural decline, the state will win the day and while mankind will not necessarily destroy itself, it can all too easily plunge into another dark age.

“Mankind will never destroy itself…”

Ed Hudgins's picture

“Mankind will never destroy itself…”

Linz – As is often the case, I don’t disagree with your reflections on what reflects cultural degeneration. The pabulum that flows from the mouths of 24-hour newsheads is one of those reflections. So is the constant noise, noise, noise which can kill thinking. Why do all demagogues insist on screaming? They don’t want the listeners to use their minds. (I’ve never understood bars with music so loud people can’t hear each other speak much less think. Maybe if they’re just there to get laid, non-thinking is the point.)

Technology can be a mixed bag. Social commentators in the past century lamented that radio and later TV would keep people from reading books. But it also brought classical music broadcasts into any home that wanted them as well as news and much else that was good. And motion pictures became a wonderful new art form. Lots of junk but lots of good. The current technologies do pose a unique challenge to the culture. Infantilization is growing.

But my kids have an iPad and I’m impressed by the interactive learning games that are also fun. (We choose which games we download.) We do have to pull them away from it sometimes to go do other things, but so far it’s for the good. And thanks to Youtube, they’ve been exposed to classical music via “Baby Einstein” videos. And through this and other media (and mommy and daddy!) they can sing lots of cute kids’ song that you and I probably sang, and most of the popular Disney songs, the ones with melodies!

Our discussions always come back to the future. I will always strive to change things for the better, for my own sake and the sake of my children.

Think of the world in the early 1940s, at war with millions dying and the only seeming social alternatives as fascism, communism, socialism, and welfare statism. Now think of Gail Wynand commissioning a skyscraper from Howard Roark as “The last achievement of man on earth before mankind destroys itself.” And think of Roark’s response: “Mankind will never destroy itself… Nor should it think of itself as destroyed. Not so long as it does things such as this.”

Celebrate the achievements that are still all around us, and nurture the sparks that gave rise to them until they blaze bright and banish the darkness!


Lindsay Perigo's picture

I'm gratified to think that I might have contributed to your appreciating the urgency of the "airhead" problem, but I fear the answer to your question, "Will future generations look back on our current July 4th festivities and lament that we didn’t grasp that the republic was gone?" is already, irretrievably, "Yes!" In a tragic paradox, the airheads have been enabled and empowered, to use two ghastly modern cliches, by the very "achievers" whom you celebrate. Contemporary technology has made it clear just how infantilised humans have become, and has encouraged them in their infantilism.

Another indicator I repeatedly point to (and folk think I'm being flippant when I'm in deadly earnest): the aural atrocity that now passes for speech. I just now, after watching Rick Perry on the Bret Baier panel, had to hit the mute button when Ainsley Airhead and some other bimbo came on. Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack! No nation in which such a disgusting travesty of human vocalising is accepted as the norm can possibly survive—not because of the quacking per se but because of what it indicates about the culture-at-large. I realised when I found it impossible to watch the recent Sherlock Holmes series starring the admirable Benedict Cumberbatch, because of the overpowering, demented whooshing, swishing, crashing, banging noises constantly on the soundtrack, drowning out the dialogue, that by such means as these, as well as the more commonly acknowledged ones, have the Comprachicos achieved their objective. These noises are now used in lead-ins to interviews on Fox and CNN, and soon, no doubt, will be used during interviews and throughout the reading of the news. Not just America but the whole world has become unhinged—literally deranged—from this constant, ubiquitous torment. Everyone is in a frenzy of freneticism, without cease, in deathly fear that the panic might abate. Faecesbook and Twit-Witter have only accentuated this cultural terrorism. How can a Republic founded by philosophers survive such a tsunami of savagery and stupidity? Again, I am serious about this!!!!

A path ahead?

Ed Hudgins's picture

Agreed that the world is dying from welfare statism, not only economically but spiritually. And I agree with Linz's contention that America has a serious airhead problem; indeed, I entitled a section in a talk I just gave "Achievers vs. Airheads."

But I always ask, "What is the path ahead?" Since I don't intend to slide into destitution, dragging my family down with me, I'm looking for ways to fight as best I can. There are many activists and opinion-leaders who are making their contributions to the cause of a free, prosperous society based on a sound, rational culture. I'm always asking how I can better make mine.

Welfare Statism

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

The whole planet is dying from welfare statism. The Republican and Democratic parties need to be brutally smashed. Anyone who casts a single vote for them should be instantly jailed or forcibly exiled to North Korea.

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