The essence of America revealed in Game 6 of the World Series
What is the essence of America? That is no small question; the political divide in this country for the last hundred years, at least, has hinged on that question, on what this nation values. Traditionally America has represented not equality of outcome but equality of opportunity, and the son of a poor cobbler or blacksmith could become a tycoon through hard work and dedication. America is the land of the underdog, the place where dreams come true - or it used to be so considered. It still is among the many, many immigrants who come here, often with nothing, to build a better life for themselves and their children. Unlike most places around the globe, America is the place where dreams come through, provided one is ambitious enough, hard working enough, to make them.
But Progressivism has been at work in America for a century or more, and the world-weary vision of despair and hopelessness has become enshrined in a large segment of the populace. This is an international malady, born and bred in the decrepitude of an exhausted Europe which cast off her inequitable traditions without actually creating meritocratic ones, a land where the nobility no longer rules but a cowed and beaten public feeds at the trough that had once been the inheritance of the aristocrats. Labor unionism, socialism, statism were the natural byproduct of the revolutionary spirit in Europe where the working class hated the rich because they could never hope to be them. Things were different in America; Americans did not hate the rich, because every American hoped to one day be in that happy estate. Yet a century of Europhilia, fostered by academics, blue-blood "old money" families, and those who seek to use government for their own aggrandizement and power, has created a class of people not just dependent but enthusiastically so - the Obama voter, the Occupy Wall Street protestors who seek to tear down but never look to actually building up. Wealth has become the focus of hatred because many are too lazy to seek it. They want it given to them, and they want to use the force of arms that governments possess to pry it from the hands of those who have labored to earn it. Bear in mind that the sword is the instrument from which governments derive their power, or as Lenin put it, power flows from the barrel of a gun. Government redistribution of wealth is an act of violence.
What is the essence of America? More than ever, this year it is baseball.
Last night the St. Louis Cardinals, wildcard team in the playoffs, forced game 7 of the World Series by defeating the Texas Rangers in a terrific extra-innings game.
Being a native St. Louisan, I bleed red like everyone else in town. I was horribly dismayed by the first half of the season, where our team struggled to play even adequate ball. But through hard work, dedication, and what used to be called grit, things came together, and the team that looked to be finished at the All Star break wound up in a death struggle with the American League champions (a much better team, to be honest) in a nip-and-tuck battle royale for the crown.
What we witnessed in St. Louis Thursday night was nothing short of the very best of America. Neither team was expected to be there, but through those very best of American virtues they struggled to rise to the top. This is the quintessential America, the America we all once believed in, the place where dreams come true not through our fairy godfather in Washington but through our own efforts, through hard work, dedication, and a system that gives second chances. This World Series is a showcase for all that is right in America.
Come on, America! Let's play some ball!
(Hat tip to Jack Kemp for inspiring this essay.)
Timothy Birdnow is a St. Louis based writer. He blogs at www.tbirdnow.mee.nu.