C. Bradley Thompson, political science professor and author, writes this piece at AZ Central on Americanism and how it can save us from a modern civil war.
…Where is all this leading us? This much is certain: To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, a nation that hates itself cannot stand.
Shockingly, conservative and liberal media outlets are now publishing with some regularity articles with titles such as “America’s Coming Civil War” or “The Second Civil War is Coming.” According to Victor Davis Hanson, one of our most penetrating and judicious thinkers, America is “now nearing a point comparable to 1860.”
Should we take these headlines seriously, or is it just journalistic hyperbole?
Polling data from Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service suggests “more than half the likely electorate thinks we are more than 70% of the way to being at the edge of civil war.” According to a poll taken by Newsweek, a third of all Americans think such a conflict could break out within the next five years, and 10% think it is “very likely to happen.” These are ominous and disturbing numbers.
Nothing, however, is inevitable. If we are to avoid civil war, Americans must rediscover the principles and promise of American life that united us for over 200 years.
We should recall that the United States of America is the first and only nation in world history defined by a self-referential philosophy, by an “ism.” That philosophy or “ism” is summed up in the expression “Americanism.”
The “ism” in Americanism suggests that being an American is part ideology, part way of life, part attitude, and even part personality. Broadly defined, Americanism is that philosophy which identifies the traditional moral character and sense of life unique to the people of the United States.
The idea of Americanism has no foreign counterpart. No other nation has anything quite like it. We may speak of a French, an Italian or a Persian culture, but there is no Frenchism, Italianism or Persianism.
Americanism is and always has been synonymous with the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration’s axiomatic truths say that “all men are created equal” and that all men are endowed “with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The philosophy of Americanism says that — despite our differences of race, ethnicity, class, sex, gender, sexual orientation, religion or place of origin — all men and women are equally free, morally sovereign and self-governing. This philosophy inspired hundreds of millions of people from around the world to immigrate to America.
America once was, and hopefully still can be, a nation for the ambitious, hard-working, creative, productive, adventurous and entrepreneurial. That is the meaning of Americanism and the spirit of American liberty…