What is America?

Every July Fourth, we enjoy Lee Greenwood's song, "God Bless the USA." That chorus brings many of us to tears. "I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free." And when we hear "I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me," we see the veteran whose brothers did die for our freedom. But what is "America?"

There are many things that make America different from the nations in other parts of the world. But the United States has two major neighbors in North America: Canada and Mexico. Neither one of them comes to mind when anyone anywhere in the world hears the word "America." It's always the United States, that "shining city on the hill" Ronald Reagan spoke about as he reflected on newcomers to America.

"I know I have told before of the moment in 1630 when the tiny ship Arabella bearing settlers to the New World lay off the Massachusetts coast. To the little bank of settlers gathered on the deck John Winthrop said: "we shall be a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us, so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world.

Well, America became more than "a story," or a "byword" -- more than a sterile footnote in history. I have quoted John Winthrop's words more than once on the campaign trail this year -- for I believe that Americans in 1980 are every bit as committed to that vision of a shining "city on a hill," as were those long ago settlers."

I believe that true Americans are just as committed now as they have been for the centuries that preceded us. The people on that ship in 1630 faced dangers they couldn't know. Pioneers throughout history put their lives on the line again and again. And every buck private or SEAL Team member is ready to do the same today.

America grew out of the great hopes of people "yearning to breathe free." Our forefathers came from countries with state religions, where disagreeing with the crown often led to a death sentence. So the United States became a unique place where certain freedoms were enshrined in a Constitution that all other laws must answer to. More than that, America is not just a place, it is an idea that lives in a place, a dream that is so important that we must state it clearly.

America rests on the idea that you can invest yourselves in making a better life, and it will not be stolen from you.

Let's say that again. America is the idea that you can invest yourselves in making a better life, and it will not be stolen from you. People came from Europe, where the crown was absolute. Religious oppression was pervasive. And the divide between rich and poor was so incredibly wide that today's leftists aren’t able to comprehend it. Everything depended on what family you were born into and who you knew. Your birth status determined your life status. But that wasn't true in America.

John Jacob Astor came to America with the shirt on his back. He took a simple skill, a sharp mind, and great effort to become the first multimillionaire in America. In short, he invested himself in a better life and succeeded. So that others could do the same, our Constitution guarantees the necessary conditions for this to happen.

The First Amendment makes America attractive by preventing the government from dictating which church you go to or limiting your ability to speak your mind. But you can't do that in England or Canada. Tommy Robinson is in prison in England for reporting on the trial of Muslim gang rapists. If you use the wrong gender pronouns in Canada, you can go to jail.

The Second Amendment guarantees the right of the individual to bear arms. While personal defense may be the most public reason, it's clear that no government would seriously consider trying to suppress a population that has more small arms than it has. Thus, the Second Amendment secures the others.

The Fourth Amendment protects us from nosy government officials. They have to get a judge to agree that we've likely committed a crime before searching our stuff. And they can't just take our things. Kings used to be able to do both. Without private property, your effort can be stolen by the government.

The Fifth Amendment prevents the government from forcing us to testify against ourselves. In short, they can pound sand if we don't want to talk. The Star Chamber and torture aren't allowed here.

I could go on, but the picture is clear. When the Preamble to the Constitution says that America has a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people," it means it. And that sets it apart from the rest of the world. America is that shining city on a hill because the government is restricted. It can't just do what it wants.

We can argue about how the American dream has been distorted by centuries of growing government and judicial malfeasance. All that is true. But at its heart, the American dream is alive and well, and that American dream elected Donald Trump instead of an opportunistic lefty who would have completed the "radical transformation" of America.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton pushed a program called "socialism." In fact, "socialism" is Marxism, and is based on the lie that the only way the lower classes can get ahead is if the government steals from the rich and gives to the poor. Tell that to John Jacob Astor or the millions of others who have and continue to move up the economic ladder in spite of government. As Margaret Thatcher observed, "the only problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples' money." Venezuela is learning that the hard way.

Instead of womb to tomb socialism that functions by confiscating the things that Americans produce, we are moving back toward that ideal of an America where you can bust your butt to make your better life, and government won't steal it from you. At the same time, we have a system of laws that are designed to prevent others from stealing from you as well. In short, we are restoring America to what it was in the beginning. We are making America great again.

America will once again be a living idea. It is the idea that you can invest yourself in making a better life, and your efforts will not be stolen from you.

God Bless the USA.