Will 2016 be a real turning point?
Our bipartisan political elite began the year confident the fix was in. They had a dispiriting political rerun planned for us. There was to be another Bush-Clinton electoral "contest," overseen as always by the "news" media. The media would do Hillary's work for her, resulting in the "inevitable" election of you-know-whom.
Then along came Donald Trump. He defeated Jeb! and Hillary and the so-called news media. He also upended the Clinton Crime Family's clever plan to get the bribes before the election, leaving the smart set and some of the worst people in the world with egg on their faces.
The election of Donald Trump means we have won a respite. We have been given an opportunity to reverse the scary trends of recent years. During these years, our liberty has been slipping away, and our nation's leaders have been making foolish decisions, putting our lives and our prosperity at risk. But the blame, fellow citizen, is ours. The American founders would tell us that the shocking level of folly, corruption, and illiberality in government we have been living with is the result of our abandonment of our responsibility to keep America on track. As an American patriot wrote: "[o]ur country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right."
To get America back on track, to make the most of 2016, we, the people need to do our part. To be able to do our part, we need to get oriented by reference to one historical fact above all others: 1776 marks the economic and political boundary between the world we live in and all that went before.
On this side of that boundary is the liberty and abundance you and I enjoy; on the other side is the wretched condition of our ancestors. If they could see us, they would be astonished at our liberty and the ease and expansiveness of our lives.
We are the beneficiaries of a transformation of consciousness and understanding that gave us Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations and the Declaration of Independence in one miraculous year. The new way of thinking was eventually to put us in charge of the government. That same transformation also put us in charge of the economy. Ludwig von Mises, in his book Liberalism, makes the point this way in his very first words in that very great book:
The social order created by the philosophy of the Enlightenment assigned supremacy to the common man. In his capacity as a consumer, the "regular fellow" was called upon to determine ultimately what should be produced, in what quantity, and of what quality, by whom, how, and where; in his capacity as a voter, he was sovereign in directing the nation's policies.
The liberty and abundance we enjoy are the measure of the success of that social order, the social order of classical liberalism ushered in by those two world-making documents. That new social order was wonderfully made by those of our ancestors who seized the opportunity to remake the human world to our benefit.
To continue to benefit from their handiwork, and to continue to deserve those benefits, two things are needed: we, the people need to understand the political and the economic system the Founders gave us, and we need to care about it, to care for it, to take care of it.
The good news is that it is easy to understand the gifts of the Founders, and because those gifts are lovely, they are easy to love. Once understanding is gained, dedication can swiftly follow.
Robert Curry is the author of Common Sense Nation: Unlocking the Forgotten Power of the American Idea from Encounter Books. You can preview the book here.