Whenever the fog from Washington, D.C.’s Foggy Bottom blows across the country, rest assured it will blow right back out. And when it does, American exceptionalism is still there, gleaming in the sun.
For every Jimmy Carter, there’s a Ronald Reagan who assures that we might take one step back occasionally, but afterward we’ll take 50 steps forward.
Shining a spotlight on that singular American spirit, Edwin Feulner and Brian Tracy have penned a fabulous new book, “The American Spirit: Celebrating the Virtues and Values that Make Us Great.” It is literally inspiring and designed to make you feel good, because of this: the authors firmly believe that our “indomitable spirit” actually “defines us as a people.”
I like that.
Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation, and Tracy, a training consultant, have decided to happily swim against the tide by championing everything that is good about America and Americans. This would be reduced to bathroom-reading in the West Wing, at best, but I suspect a whole lot of folks across the country will absolutely love “The American Spirit.”
The book is filled with wonderful stories, profiles and eye-popping stats. For example, the authors highlight the foresight needed by the Founders to create the Declaration of Independence, and they quote President Calvin Coolidge on the 150th anniversary of its signing: “If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions.”
Here we find an element of greatness that has really made the United States a beacon. And that’s another thing I love about this book; when the leftists who have infested our government and media quack about American ills and our alleged abuses of other peoples, Feulner and Tracy remind us in a powerful way that Americans are generous, idealistic, courageous and optimistic – all qualities that a Hitler-devastated Europe and countless Third World countries would have to acknowledge.
In the middle of a bleak recession, Americans – out of their own pockets – donated $1.3 billion to Haitians decimated by a 2010 earthquake. There are literally countless such examples, which Barack Obama never pulls out the bag during his dreary apology tours around the globe.
In a terrific Chapter 4 (titled simply, “Responsibility”), the authors rightly emphasize a virtue that is perhaps lost on younger generations today.
Feulner and Tracy say it this way: “The withering of personal responsibility can devastate individuals, families and even nations. That is why it is important to celebrate acts of responsibility when they occur and to pass those lessons on to future generations, so we do not repeat the mistakes of the past.”
They then cite the example of the Robert I. Lappin Charitable Trust. When the trust lost $8 million in the Bernie Madoff scheme, Robert Lappin donated almost half of his remaining net worth – $5 million – back to the trust, to ensure that employees’ retirement was put back in place.
These kinds of stories reverberate throughout “The American Spirit.” The only “negative” to this book is that it leaves you panting for more, truly. Not a long or difficult read, it is the kind of book that can attract many more readers than one might imagine. It’s that good.
A favorite American topic, capitalism, is given the royal treatment later on in the book, and it serves as yet another reminder that Feulner and Tracy are gifted not only in pulling together information, but in analyzing it for practical effect.
Reminding readers of the sobering statistics for those interested in starting entrepreneurial businesses (less than one percent will eventually become medium-size-to-large businesses “generating millions of dollars in sales”), the authors pull the tastiest kernel of truth from the data: “Each failure offers an opportunity to learn and improve, a chance to find another path to success. No, the opposite of success is not failure; it’s quitting.”
And there you have it: the essence of American exceptionalism. Drive, ambition, worthy goals, hard work and perhaps most of all, boundless optimism.
That America, the one we grew up with and are still determined to pass on to our children, stands tall and proud and shiny in “The American Spirit.” In the run-up to the all-important November election, you would do well to read it for yourself, then get copies for your children and grandchildren.