I receive a lot of e-mails from readers of this blog. A little while back, I talked about President Obama’s view of entrepreneurship and how it ties into the notion of “American Exceptionalism” (most times it feels like “American Apology-ism.”
This week I received an e-mail from Gene Jardel of Pine Branch, New Jersey. His “Open Letter” to President Obama on American Exceptionalism is very unique and fresh. It is not harsh, but a very thoughtful and powerfully-presented essay.
Read it here and let me know your thoughts:
Dear President Obama,
For several years I have noticed charges leveled against you by your Republican counterparts professing that you don’t believe in American exceptionalism. In as much as I can understand their reasoning, I do take exception to their accusations but not their criticisms.
For you to disbelieve in American exceptionalism, you would have had to experience it, and you never did. American Exceptionalism is something that is earned and the rules are simple; you play harder than the next guy, you win, you work harder, you win.
You see, here in the United States, in order to succeed, you often have to take your licks. You get beat down, and then get up again. Oftentimes, repeatedly. You learn from your mistakes and emerge all the better for it. That’s just the way it works in this country and it has yielded some pretty exceptional people and things.
No, you don’t disbelieve. The actual fact, as I see it, is that you don’t even understand American exceptionalism. Not having grown up here, that is almost excusable. It is something that is wholly unknown to you because you missed America in your formative years.
And that’s a shame because it was a great place to grow up and set your sights on the future. It is very unlikely that you ever played sandlot ball. I doubt if you ever broke a bone by falling out of a tree or participating in competitive sports. Or broke a neighbors window.
I wonder if you ever got into a schoolyard fight and ended up best friends with the other guy? Did you ever build a hot rod? Did you ever even dream of it. Did you ever go fishing and catch a “wopper”? Did you ever mow lawns for money? Or have a paper route? Or get your pants caught in a bicycle chain?
Somehow I don’t think that you ever lived any of these things; these are just a few of the many very important ingredients
that make Americans what they are and America the idea that it is. Or was. We call it foundation.
Here’s a question for you. A little known fact. Do you know what vehicles most millionaires in this country drive? I will tell you: Ford F-150 pickup trucks.
Yes, these people are millionaires, but they’re not lounging around abusing their minions, as you would have me believe. They’re working hard to fulfill their dream; pounding a square peg into a round hole every day to meet the payroll and to do a better job than the next guy. They want to win. They want to do the best that they can for themselves and for their families. Then, if they like, give some to their favorite charity or the Church of their choice.
They earned that right. You see, that’s how it works here in the U.S.A. Do you have an inkling of any of this? To these people, “fair share” means work harder, earn more. “Eliminating waste and fraud” isn’t just a catchy phrase that goes along with a toothy grin, it’s part of their daily survival.
American exceptionalism is distant and strange to you. And because these building blocks that are so unique to Americans were denied to you as a child, you are forgiven. You are absolved for ignorance of our way of life. It wasn’t your fault.
But in pardoning you for this transgression, I would ask you one favor: Would you please stop telling the successful people of this country that they don’t deserve what they spent a lifetime earning? Please stop taking from the people that are pulling the wagon and giving it to those that are riding in the wagon. Please stop pilfering from those that work for a living and giving to those that vote for a living.
In other words, learn about us before you tell us what’s best for us.
For generations, people that were “yearning to be free” have come to this country. Many have sacrificed everything just to get to “the land of opportunity”. Many knew nothing but a lifetime of hunger and poverty. They fought religious and political oppression and many surrendered all that they owned just for the opportunity to be here without a penny in their pocket.
This episode of our country’s history poses a question. If your vision of this country ever comes to fruition, where then will we go?
Pine Beach NJ