Ahead of the 2016 presidential vote, it was popular on the left and right to respectively say that if Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton won the election, the U.S. was finished as a nation. The hysterics on both sides insulted the U.S.
Paraphrasing Parkview Institute board member Hall McAdams, if the ongoing prosperity of any organization, business or nation is reliant on one person, it’s probably not worth saving in the first place. Let’s just say that the U.S. is much, much bigger than one person, and is made of stiffer stuff of the kind that one person could never destroy it. Jingoism? No, just basic sense. Extremes are frequently ridiculous.
Consider all this in light of a recent and very important opinion piece by Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell. She cites a YouGov poll indicating Americans on both sides of the ideological divide think they’re losing: “Liberals are most likely to say the country has shifted right, while most conservatives perceive the country as shifting left.” Rampell also cites a Pew Poll which notes that “Majorities of both Democrats (66 percent) and Republicans (81 percent) declared that their own side has been losing more of the time.” Life is so hard it seems, for both sides. Which as Rampell notes, is an impossibility since there are but two parties.
It’s something to think about with the southern border still apparently overrun with people desperate to get into the United States. Love or hate immigration, what’s undeniable is that the people at the border have come from exponentially worse. One guesses liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, would all agree on that. Where there might be disagreement has to do with why they’re massing at the border, but even those who think they’ve risked so much in pursuit of handouts would likely still agree that if handouts or welfare were the instigator of any border crossing, it would still be true that they’d left much, much worse.
It’s hopefully a reminder to both sides that whatever their laments, most who aren’t American would give anything to be American. The economic and personal opportunities here are endless, as is the freedom to move about these fifty states in pursuit of whatever elevates our individual qualities the most. Nick Schulz and Arnold Kling wrote years ago that upon stepping into the United States, the individual productivity of man and woman alike soars. So true. The U.S. economy rewards more varied skills than any country in the world, and it does because the U.S. is a magnet for the very investment that relentlessly pushes the humans lucky enough to be here ever higher.
Back to those lucky enough to be here, Rampell wittily and aptly describes us as "a nation of" self-described "losers." Well, yes and no. No, in the sense that Americans are the envy of the world. But yes in the sense that seemingly spoiled Americans imagine amid all this abundance that they’ve been wronged.
For liberals and Democrats who think the country is turning right such that Democrats are losing more and more, government is bigger than ever. You got what you wanted, or a lot of what you wanted. For conservatives and Republicans who think the country is turning left, the Republicans are losing more, and that they’ve been “forgotten” by the Establishment only to be discovered by people like Donald Trump, what’s the complaint? Ronald Reagan popularized the notion that the most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” In which case, if you’ve been forgotten by the Establishment then consider yourself lucky. Very lucky.
Either way, and regardless of what government’s done or doing, profit-motivated business have neither forgotten nor turned their noses up to either side. Wherever you are in the United States, the profit-motivated have made it simple for you to get where you’re not in pursuit of better work, better living standards, and a fresh new start without any requirement that you risk your life and the lives of your family members in order to start anew. Americans aren’t losers, they’re the winners of life’s lottery.