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Revive the American spirit and make America great again

Written By | Sep 2, 2015

WASHINGTON, September 2, 2015 — The U.S.A. is in a funk this Labor Day weekend. Americans are deeply divided over key issues, each side so steadfast in its position that the spirit of compromise seems no longer possible.

It’s been almost 10 years since the economy had annual growth rate exceeding 3 percent. During that period, Americans seem to have lost the unique spirit that enabled our country to make the tremendous leap from birth to greatness in just 150 years.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has surged to the lead among Republican candidates, mostly by promising to “make America great again.” Although he offers few specifics thus far, restoring America’s greatness must start by reviving the American spirit.

The American spirit is unique. No other country has been able to offer its citizens our combination of personal freedom, pride in citizenship, the chance to reap earned rewards, and a wide range of opportunities. This winning combination has encouraged Americans to take risks and strive mightily to achieve their dreams. No other country has been able to motivate its citizens by permitting individuals to keep the vast majority of what they have earned.

Those challenges, opportunities and potential rewards are what have motivated Americans to “go for it” since their country was founded. Historically, likely because of this “American exceptionalism,” Americans tend to succeed where others fail.

Americans tend to extend the limits and reach for higher goals. Once those goals are achieved, American set higher goals and then achieve them as well. This has led to an identifiably American spirit, the driving force of a country where most believe that anything is possible and nothing can hold them back if they are truly determined.

But today, in 2015, Americans seem to have lost that spirit.

Prolonged poor economic conditions coupled with a government economic policy geared to benefit the few at the expense of the majority has caused average citizens to believe that the deck is stacked against them, and no matter what they do, their chance of getting ahead has been lost, perhaps forever. This loss in national confidence has resulted in the loss of that traditional entrepreneurial, “can-do” American spirit as well.

Trump is right. We must make America great again, and to do that we have to revive the American spirit.

Sow exactly how do we revive the American spirit?

It starts with restoring personal freedom to all Americans. In return, all Americans must again begin to accept personal responsibility.

For the past seven years, however, the current administration has been taking actions that do exactly the opposite. Personal freedoms are being reduced. Individual responsibility has been reduced, as well. In its place, the government has quietly but relentlessly substituted a large dose of taxpayer-funded “social responsibility.”

The traditional American spirit learned to live with failure, while employing failure in a positive way, as additional motivation to increase the determination to succeed. Traditional American spirit was ready to accept personal responsibility for outcomes rather than blaming someone else for things that went wrong. Traditional American spirit simply did not take “no” for an answer, believing instead that anything was possible with hard work and perseverance.

In 1963, John Kennedy said an American would walk on the moon by the end of the decade, and we accomplished that. In 1983, after the most severe recession since the 1930s had drawn to a close, President Reagan told Americans if they had an idea or if they had a dream they wanted to follow, they should “go for it.” He set about redirecting U.S. government policy in ways that encouraged Americans to resurrect and foster the American spirit of old. His actions and his inspiration resulted in the longest economic expansion in American history. Except for brief hiccups in 1991 and 2001, it lasted from 1982 to 2007.

Since that time, by increasing welfare payments, providing free health insurance, increasing food stamp payments and extending unemployment benefits, the current government policy has made it easy for Americans to give up after enduring economic setbacks rather than plowing forward using the American spirit as the fuel to forge ahead.

By constantly blaming others for an individual’s problems and fostering an “it’s not your fault” atmosphere in the country, the current administration has destroyed the American spirit and demoralized the American people.

By handing out to large numbers of Americans money they did not earn through a huge increase in social programs, this administration has convinced many Americans that it is more beneficial to collect taxpayer-provided “freebies” than to earn income themselves. By creating and fostering a no-growth economy for the past seven years, the administration has provided few meaningful opportunities for Americans. By over-taxing those who contribute the most to the American economy, the government has discouraged those who can from taking risky chances. All of this has contributed to the destruction of the American spirit.

America has always been an exceptional nation. America has always been the best place on earth to find “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” America has always been the land of opportunity. America needs to return to greatness. We can start by reviving the American spirit.

Michael Busler

Michael Busler, Ph.D. is a public policy analyst and a Professor of Finance at Stockton University where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Finance and Economics. He has written Op-ed columns in major newspapers for more than 35 years.