What unites us

I recently wrote about a few of the ideas that Americans of all backgrounds have traditionally held in common. Today, I would like to further expand that list.

Recognizing the diversity of God’s Creation, Americans have been long been united by an appreciation for the “principle of variety.” As such, we have traditionally opposed systems of social leveling like that enforced during the French Revolution. We have understood that government-imposed equality of outcome stifles individual initiative by penalizing creativity and hard work. Instead, Americans have sought to protect the idea that the individual citizen rises or falls by his or her own merit.

Second, Americans have traditionally recognized the imperfectability of Man. As a result, our nation has steadfastly refused to embrace the Utopian goal offered by socialism or communism. Remembering that “in Adam’s fall, we sinned all,” Americans have held that human nature is inherently flawed, a view that led our founders to create a political system featuring safeguards like “checks and balances” and the “separation of powers.”

Finally, Americans have supported the idea that freedom and property are closely linked. We have believed that someone unable to protect the fruit of his labors is not truly free. Americans have understood that a system that values private property encourages individual responsibility, provides for the creation of culture, and raises men and women above common drudgery by giving them an opportunity for the “good life.”

Today, each of these concepts is under siege by a generation of radicals who seek the creation of an earthly Utopia. This present challenge, plus the debt we owe to both our forefathers and to our posterity, behooves each of us to learn more about the ideas upon which our nation was founded. As Abraham Lincoln said, “As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

Kevin Ritter

Washington County Commissioner


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