We live in a great country.
Sometimes it’s helpful to see greatness through the eyes of foreign travelers in the country. After all, Alexis de Toqueville’s assessment of the United States has been a classic text when evaluating the country’s strengths and weaknesses. If you haven’t read it, it’s worth the time to recapture the United States of his time, the mid 1800's.
I recently read an article by Leonid Bershidsky that captured something of the flavor of deToqueville’s analysis. A Russian Jew traveling through the United States covering the election, he’s a keen observer of national greatness, and what that means in regards to each candidate.
Regardless of Donald Trump’s view of American greatness, or Ted Cruz’s Constitutional view, or Kasich’s responsible view of the country’s path to greatness, Bershidsky’s analysis of the American people captures the spirit of America that we need so deeply.
To a traveler, America's greatness is revealed in simple, visual ways. Everywhere, even in sparse rural areas, there's a healthy bustle of activity. Americans get up early, and they find it hard to keep still. At a Florida intersection, I watched a man expertly juggle a mattress-store sign to attract customers. He might hold the sign for minimum wage, but that's not why he juggles it.
The whole country is never in repose; an energy runs through it that you won't find anywhere else, and a sense of constant, habitual competition is ever-present. This is the biggest economy in the world, and it feels like it. It feels like a great nation.
Each candidate has a different opinion on how to make America a great nation (yes, it’s hard to write that sentence without repeating Trump’s campaign slogan, proving his genius in choosing it in the first place). Each candidate longs -- truly longs -- to see America lead the pack of the world’s contenders. In part, each of us in determining what would make America great in our own minds will decide our vote come November. Every candidate, Trump, Cruz, Kasich, Clinton and Sanders, has their own vision for reaffirming America's greatness.
But we all agree that our unique, fabulous, beautiful, open and adventurous country is worth fighting for.
To read Leonid Bershidsky’s article on his view of American greatness, follow this link.