Americanism: A Revival of the American Ideology

By Gary Brown

Sunday night night (October 3), in my presentation at the IVA community meeting in Coeur d’Alene I stated that I no longer consider myself to be a conservative, but one who embraces “Historical Americanism.”  Before I could fully explain myself, an obvious question was asked, “What is Americanism?”

The lively discussion that followed was informative and engaged everyone of the 40 attendees.

The reason for my shift toward Historical Americanism is all about winning the messaging battle; the war of words.  Any attorney will tell you that if you win the language battle in court, you win.  (As a matter of fact, there was an attorney in the crowd that evening.  Afterward, he told me that this was the most refreshing conversation about the original intent of the Founders he has had in years.)

In short, we have to rebuild our case for America.  This is unfortunate, but a reality.  We must be creative with language and define our terms.  Almost without exception, when I share with people as I go each day that I espouse Historical Americanism, the response I get is, “What is that?”  Excellent!  The door is now opened to intelligently share the meaning of the values upon which our country was founded.

I must give credit where credit is due.  I learned the importance of winning the “language wars” during my years in Washington, DC from my friend Michael Schwartz.  Michael is Senator Tom Colburn’s Chief of Staff.  Before legislation was written, we would sit down and consider what language would win.  We would carefully consider the words we were using and how we were going to define the terms.

Let me say emphatically; we never compromised our position.  Winning this war is not about compromising our values; it is about communicating our values in a new way.

It has been refreshing to engage in new conversations over very old ideas.  If you have time, read over the Historical Americanism article below and let me know what you think.

The original article as it was released:

“Political Ideology” is the term that is sweeping across America to define our varying political philosophies as Americans.

According to “wordnetweb.princeton.edu, “ideology” is defined as a “political orientation: an orientation that characterizes the thinking of a group or nation or an imaginary or visionary theorization.”

Another definition: Ideology also has been defined as “a system of ideas, principles, and values that characterize the belief system of a community.”

[arkarcheology.uark.edu/rockart/index.html]

In 21st century America there exist many ideologies.  After all in America, doesn’t freedom mean that we are free to think and feel any way we choose?  Yes, that is true.  In America, one may think, feel and if it doesn’t infringe on the rights of another, say what they like.

However, I am challenging whether any thought, feeling or words spoken by an American is historically “American.”  The point: Just because a political ideology is held or expressed by an American doesn’t make that ideology historically “American.”

Even though it goes against the grain of what we have come to know as “American,” there are ideas, principles and values that historically characterize the belief system of America.  One need only to look to our Founding Fathers and the documents they produced to get a clear picture of what these ideas, principles and values are.

In articles to come, we will present ample evidence for our claim.  But in a nutshell, America was founded as a “Constitutional Republic” built on the values below.

America: A Constitutional Republic

America is a Constitutional Republic as defined by our Founders in our Founding documents; The Bible, The Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  I have summarized America’s historical ideology below.

The Top 10 ideas, principles and values on which America was/is built are…

  1. God, as understood by the Hebrew people, first-century Christians and the Founders.
  2. Natural Law: Law based on “nature and nature’s God.”
  3. Unalienable Rights: That our rights are bestowed on us by our Creator and protected by our government.
  4. The equality of individuals and sovereignty of the individual.  That “All men are created equal.”
  5. Republicanism: The capacity of the individual to “self-governance” under the law as defined by nature and nature’s God.
  6. The Rule of Law: That men are governed by the timeless and eternal law of nature and nature’s God given to us in the Scriptures such as the 10 Commandments and Christ’s great commandment to love the Lord our God and our neighbor as ourselves and the Golden Rule.
  7. A Virtuous, Educated and Engaged Public: The Founder’s insisted that the only way for our form of republican government to survive and thrive is when we, as a nation, are virtuous, educated and engaged in our government.
  8. Private land ownership/property Rights: The right to the ownership of what we produce.  Ownership of conscious, thought, speech, property and self.
  9. Free-Enterprise Economics/Capitalism: The freedom to buy, the freedom sell, the freedom to succeed and the freedom to fail.

10. The power is in the people; Limited Federal Government: Government, empowered by the people, serves and protects the people, their property and the people’s God-given rights.  “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”

We must not allow the ideas, values and principles on which America was founded to be reduced to one of the many modern political “ideologies.”  It is apparent that some Americans have developed other politically-correct ideologies but there is only one historically-correct “American ideology.”

Now, more than ever, we must embrace historical “American ideology.”  There is a unique American idea; there are unique American principles and unique American values.  We need a revival of the unique characteristics of what I am suggesting is historical “Americanism.”

A new “conservative” paradigm: We are Americans not “Conservative” Americans

I am suggesting that those of us who embrace “Americanism” as defined in the Top 10 list above declare ourselves simply as “Americans.”  To continue to identify ourselves as “Conservative” or as “Conservative Americans” allows for the legitimacy of other “Pseudo-American Ideologies.”

I think it is time to call a spade a spade.  We can no longer accept that there is an American “Right” and an American “Left.”  For example:

  • Either you embrace the American Ideology espoused by the Founders, expressed in our Founding Documents or you don’t.
  • You support the original intent of the Founders or you don’t.
  • You embrace our Judeo-Christian heritage or you don’t.
  • You believe in our American Free-Enterprise system or you don’t.

With all the talk of the existence of differing Political Ideology, I am putting out a call to place the discussion into its correct historical context.  Are we going to move forward embracing Americanism or are we moving toward tried-and-proven-to-fail ideas, principles and values…i.e. Socialism.

It is Time for a Revival of Americanism!

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Self-Educated American, Contributing Editor, Gary Brown, is the President of the Idaho Values Alliance, and Founder and Executive Director of Reach America.