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Thread: What does America mean to you?

  1. #1

    What does America mean to you?

    There have been countless debates at this forum about patriotism and what is in the best interest of this country. These debates have led me to a thought; Maybe Americans are at a point where there is a real philosophical divide as to what America should be. It seems that many Americans identify more with their political party, or lack there of, then one nation.

    This divide manifests through serious issues. A perfect example of this would be the issue of torture. Here is an example of this divide;

    One common philosophy is that America needs to do whatever it takes to secure our country. This should be done at almost any cost. If making torture legal stops one attack, then it is worth it. The terrorists are ruthless and heartless and we can't afford to be weak or another September 11th could occur.

    A second philosophy on torture, and it is one that I subscribe to, is that we are America and torture goes against the core values of the very thing we profess to love about this country. If we continue to strip away basic civil liberties then we become a version of the very thing we profess to hate so much. It also puts our future P.O.W.s in even greater danger.

    But my point is not to debate torture or any one issue, but instead to look at the overall situation. It seems that there is an ever-increasing dichotomy between Americans after September 11th. Due to many factors, not the least of which is partisan politics, Americans seem to be even more polarized and divided as to what America should be.
    Last edited by intelligentjetsfan; 03-16-2008 at 06:05 PM.

  2. #2
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    Sex, drugs, rock and roll...and R rated movies.

    That's America...not that moral value sissy sh*t.

  3. #3
    [QUOTE=PlumberKhan;2435122]Sex, drugs, rock and roll...and R rated movies.

    That's America...not that moral value sissy sh*t.[/QUOTE]

    PK you are on to something. It's tough to put my finger on what America means to me, but it certainly isn't a debate on torture.

    And as for debates on torture - that's torture in itself.

  4. #4
    [QUOTE=intelligentjetsfan;2435104]What does America mean to you? [/QUOTE]

    --Freedom.

    Above all things, freedom for the People from Govt. control, interference and domination, from Religious interference and anything else that would take away the freedom of the individual to peruse life, liberty and happiness when that persuit does not harm or limit the freedom of other Americans.

    --Personal Responsibility and Self-Starterism (the Entrepreneur Spirit). Capitalism, risk = reward, and the unstoppable economic engine of a society driven to work for their gains and success via ones own actions.

    --Strength and Power as a Nation. Fortress America. The unconquerable land of Freedom.

    --Encouraging Legal and Regulated Immigration, taking the BEST the World has to offer and making it a part of ourselves. Taking in the needy of teh World, and offering them opportunity and safety, but in a regulated and legal way.

    --Sacrifice, as detailed below:

    --Humanitarianism, helping the victims of the World whenever tragedy and calamity strikes. Giving freely of our wealth and success to help other Nations through tough times, even if many of those Nations would never consider returning the favor.

    --Peacekeeper, helping the weak of the Earth defend against tyranny and attack. Working for Peace first, with our Gun Hand at the ready. Ensuring that conflicts like WWII never have the chance to happen again.

    That is what the United States of America means to me.

  5. #5
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    [QUOTE=Warfish;2435216]--Freedom.

    Above all things, freedom for the People from Govt. control, interference and domination, from Religious interference and anything else that would take away the freedom of the individual to peruse life, liberty and happiness when that persuit does not harm or limit the freedom of other Americans.

    --Personal Responsibility and Self-Starterism (the Entrepreneur Spirit). Capitalism, risk = reward, and the unstoppable economic engine of a society driven to work for their gains and success via ones own actions.

    --Strength and Power as a Nation. Fortress America. The unconquerable land of Freedom.

    --Encouraging Legal and Regulated Immigration, taking the BEST the World has to offer and making it a part of ourselves. Taking in the needy of teh World, and offering them opportunity and safety, but in a regulated and legal way.

    --Sacrifice, as detailed below:

    --Humanitarianism, helping the victims of the World whenever tragedy and calamity strikes. Giving freely of our wealth and success to help other Nations through tough times, even if many of those Nations would never consider returning the favor.

    --Peacekeeper, helping the weak of the Earth defend against tyranny and attack. Working for Peace first, with our Gun Hand at the ready. Ensuring that conflicts like WWII never have the chance to happen again.

    That is what the United States of America means to me.[/QUOTE]

    In a perfect world, your values would be pretty solid. But they raise as many questions as answers. The devil, unfortunately, is in the details.

    I too cherish the libertarian principles of the Bill of Rights. I agree that it is the core value of our system of government. However, the danger of pure libertarianism is that hyper-individualism of the little guy usually means giving away the store, not to government, but to corporate sharks who will feed on your self-imposed isolationism and organize in your absence. The oil barons, the arms barons, the communications barons will own you and you will have no recourse but government -- the transparency of government -- to defend yourself. Sadly, we actually need the balancing effect of government regulation not only to protect the little guy, but to function as a nation in the world. Libertarianism contains a nest of undesireable perversions... factionalism, isolationism, sectionalism, and anarchy. It's a complex concept.

    The entrepreneurial spirit is laudable too, but again, how does it actually play out. Organized business will virtually always trump the upstart in the real world. Ideas that can potentially revolution a sector of the economy will be crushed as quickly as an ant underfoot by a big player who is threatened. Think electric cars, solar energy, even the better mousetrap. Innovation is not always, or even frequently, in the best interest of a player who has an established market or is wedded to an older technology. Who will provide the possibility for the little guy with the bright idea to flourish? In effect, how will an economic checks and balances system function without some government role?

    Fortress America - Sounds good, but again what does that really mean? Is this a military/Homeland Security model or is it something a bit more sophisticated... building economic interdependency with your enemies, assisting the growth of smaller players on the world scene, utilizing diplomacy over threats, respecting national sovereignty and the right of self-determination (see libertarianism above). We have to be a lot more creative in what it means to defend ourselves. The old-fashioned, conventional model is costly, inefficient, and ultimately hostile. Oddly, our greatest ally in the battle to secure our boundaries may be Hollywood and Coca-cola. Ironic and shallow, perhaps, but not to be dismissed.

    I could go on, but you see the point. Principles are nice in a vacuum. When we start to play them out, we bump against hard realities pretty fast. That's not to say I have an ideological solution. In fact, I fear ideological rigidity is a major part of the problem. It doesn't allow for out-of-the-box problem solving. The best presidents we've had in our history have always been willing to sacrifice some cherished principle to address a problem they had not foreseen. As Lincoln wisely put it during the Civil War: "My plan is to have no plan."

  6. #6
    america should be incorporated.

    America Inc.

    now that's alot closer to the truth

  7. #7
    There are some great responses here:) In addition to much of what warfish said, America was at the time and still is a great experiment in self governance with the right to govern earned and not inherited - a radical notion at the time.

    America, and its foundation, tries to have a self correcting mechanism that tends to slide power to the many and not let it shift to far one way or the other. Perhaps the most difficult balancing act we have is that if rights vs responsibility.

    I have three fears for America................
    1) Our strength has derived from our families. Today, many homes require two working parents to survive and it has harmed everything from academic advantage to moral character in our youth.
    2) That we have grown so lax in our lives that we don't have the energy or desire to find out what is true and what is Madison Ave magic. That applies to many things, but most of all our political leaders. I dare say that neither Democrats nor Republicans, neither liberals nor conservatives are impressed by their candidates today. We are sold a bill of goods and then the government acts in a self serving way rather than being of the people, by the people and for the people.
    3) I forget the third thing.......... maybe it will come back to me :huh:

  8. #8
    [QUOTE=intelligentjetsfan;2435104]There have been countless debates at this forum about patriotism and what is in the best interest of this country. These debates have led me to a thought; Maybe Americans are at a point where there is a real philosophical divide as to what America should be. It seems that many Americans identify more with their political party, or lack there of, then one nation.

    This divide manifests though serious issues. A perfect example of this would be the issue of torture. Here is an example of this divide;

    One common philosophy is that America needs to do whatever it takes to secure our country. This should be done at almost any cost. If making torture legal stops one attack, then it is worth it. The terrorists are ruthless and heartless and we can't afford to be weak or another September 11th could occur.

    A second philosophy on torture, and it is one that I subscribe to, is that we are America and torture goes against the core values of the very thing we profess to love about this country. If we continue to strip away basic civil liberties then we become a version of the very thing we profess to hate so much. It also puts our future P.O.W.s in even greater danger.

    But my point is not to debate torture or any one issue, but instead to look at the overall situation. It seems that there is an ever-increasing dichotomy between Americans after September 11th. Due to many factors, not the least of which is partisan politics, Americans seem to be even more polarized and divided as to what America should be.[/QUOTE]


    Your post has very little to do with America. It has more to do with "ordered liberty".

    I think John O'Neil describes it well in this 1997 interview.

    [URL="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/knew/view/interview_hi.html"]http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/knew/view/interview_hi.html[/URL]

  9. #9
    [QUOTE=SanAntonio_JetFan;2435326]Your post has very little to do with America. It has more to do with "ordered liberty".

    I think John O'Neil describes it well in this 1997 interview.

    [URL="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/knew/view/interview_hi.html"]http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/knew/view/interview_hi.html[/URL][/QUOTE]

    Very interesting interview about ordered liberty. It is a very tricky balance and when it gets too far out of balance, problems will occur.

    The torture issue was only one example of a divide within our country as to the direction it may be going. I think most people are not overly happy with things at this moment. The problem seems to be that there is an enormous difference in opinion on how to make things better. And, as a matter of fact, there is a more troubling issue of where we are placing the blame for why we are unhappy.

    My opinion is that there are a lot of fingers pointing at each other for the root of our problems. Liberals vs conservatives, democrats vs republicans and it seems that more and more people are becoming myopic in their views.

  10. #10
    [QUOTE=long island leprechaun;2435301]In a perfect world, your values would be pretty solid. But they raise as many questions as answers. The devil, unfortunately, is in the details.

    I too cherish the libertarian principles of the Bill of Rights. I agree that it is the core value of our system of government. However, the danger of pure libertarianism is that hyper-individualism of the little guy usually means giving away the store, not to government, but to corporate sharks who will feed on your self-imposed isolationism and organize in your absence. The oil barons, the arms barons, the communications barons will own you and you will have no recourse but government -- the transparency of government -- to defend yourself. Sadly, we actually need the balancing effect of government regulation not only to protect the little guy, but to function as a nation in the world. Libertarianism contains a nest of undesireable perversions... factionalism, isolationism, sectionalism, and anarchy. It's a complex concept.

    The entrepreneurial spirit is laudable too, but again, how does it actually play out. Organized business will virtually always trump the upstart in the real world. Ideas that can potentially revolution a sector of the economy will be crushed as quickly as an ant underfoot by a big player who is threatened. Think electric cars, solar energy, even the better mousetrap. Innovation is not always, or even frequently, in the best interest of a player who has an established market or is wedded to an older technology. Who will provide the possibility for the little guy with the bright idea to flourish? In effect, how will an economic checks and balances system function without some government role?

    Fortress America - Sounds good, but again what does that really mean? Is this a military/Homeland Security model or is it something a bit more sophisticated... building economic interdependency with your enemies, assisting the growth of smaller players on the world scene, utilizing diplomacy over threats, respecting national sovereignty and the right of self-determination (see libertarianism above). We have to be a lot more creative in what it means to defend ourselves. The old-fashioned, conventional model is costly, inefficient, and ultimately hostile. Oddly, our greatest ally in the battle to secure our boundaries may be Hollywood and Coca-cola. Ironic and shallow, perhaps, but not to be dismissed.

    I could go on, but you see the point. Principles are nice in a vacuum. When we start to play them out, we bump against hard realities pretty fast. That's not to say I have an ideological solution. In fact, I fear ideological rigidity is a major part of the problem. It doesn't allow for out-of-the-box problem solving. The best presidents we've had in our history have always been willing to sacrifice some cherished principle to address a problem they had not foreseen. As Lincoln wisely put it during the Civil War: "My plan is to have no plan."[/QUOTE]

    excellent post. Your post represents more of where I am coming from on this issue so I am biased. ;)

  11. #11
    [QUOTE=Warfish;2435216]--Freedom.

    Above all things, freedom for the People from Govt. control, interference and domination, from Religious interference and anything else that would take away the freedom of the individual to peruse life, liberty and happiness when that persuit does not harm or limit the freedom of other Americans.

    --Personal Responsibility and Self-Starterism (the Entrepreneur Spirit). Capitalism, risk = reward, and the unstoppable economic engine of a society driven to work for their gains and success via ones own actions.

    --Strength and Power as a Nation. Fortress America. The unconquerable land of Freedom.

    --Encouraging Legal and Regulated Immigration, taking the BEST the World has to offer and making it a part of ourselves. Taking in the needy of teh World, and offering them opportunity and safety, but in a regulated and legal way.

    --Sacrifice, as detailed below:

    --Humanitarianism, helping the victims of the World whenever tragedy and calamity strikes. Giving freely of our wealth and success to help other Nations through tough times, even if many of those Nations would never consider returning the favor.

    --Peacekeeper, helping the weak of the Earth defend against tyranny and attack. Working for Peace first, with our Gun Hand at the ready. Ensuring that conflicts like WWII never have the chance to happen again.

    That is what the United States of America means to me.[/QUOTE]Aww... That's cute. But you sound like a politician on television. I'm literally astounded that there are still people who believe this crap.

    [B]Freedom from the government? [/B]When everything you "own" has to be licensed, registered, and taxed? When there are literally cameras on the street corners and ID numbers linked to everything you do and every dollar you earn? When a Constitution constructed to protect your rights and liberties no longer exists?
    [B]Self Starterism?[/B] Probably the only redeemable quality left in this country, and the only thing that attracts anyone to it. Fast money and handouts.
    [B]Regulated Immigration?[/B] America's immigration policy is what you would deem to be "regulated"? It's more like a free for all invitation for the WORST offerings of Third World slum countries, who pour across the border in hordes to exploit our wonderful welfare system. Oh, and of course commit crimes against us.
    [B]Humanitarianism.[/B] Never without political agenda. But all the while using public tax dollars, whether you like it or not, to feed the residents of Uganda and rebuild their mud huts after a rainstorm. How nice... Meanwhile, war veterans who fought and risked their lives for this country starve and sleep under bridges.
    And of course, [B]American Peacekeeping [/B]in foreign countries. Or invading them, overthrowing existing governments and imposing their own, which is not at ALL what was going on in WWII. Depends how you look at it, I guess. Annexation to keep the peace or annexation to occupy? In any case, I'm sure American military presence has nothing to do with maintaining strategic potential strikepoints against neighboring countries who don't share our politics..
    Last edited by nationalist88; 03-16-2008 at 04:52 PM.

  12. #12
    [QUOTE=PlumberKhan;2435122]Sex, drugs, rock and roll...and R rated movies.

    That's America...not that moral value sissy sh*t.[/QUOTE]

    What about bullies?

    :bigcry:

  13. #13
    a place where corporations roam free and are allowed to do what ever they want, god bless the corporations

  14. #14
    Freedom of expression, Freedom of Religion ah we have so many freedoms there to many to count. But with every Liberty comes Responsibility something our elected officials have forgotten!

  15. #15
    [QUOTE=long island leprechaun;2435301]In a perfect world, your values would be pretty solid. But they raise as many questions as answers. The devil, unfortunately, is in the details.

    I could go on, but you see the point. Principles are nice in a vacuum. [/QUOTE]

    The thread did not ASK for details. He asked "What Does America Mean to You?" and I answered that.

    Each of these issues/topics could and has...endlessly....been debated here on the "details", in most of which my more detailed opinions can be found.

    [QUOTE=nationalist88;2435501]Aww... That's cute. But you sound like a politician on television. I'm literally astounded that there are still people who believe this crap.[/QUOTE]

    I'm glad you find my idealism "cute". A question was raised, and I answered it. What I find funny is that instead of answering it yourself, with your own views, you felt it more important to mock mine and play "***** from the sideline guy". Good for you.

    I knew answering this question would get me nothing but grief and trolling.

  16. #16
    [QUOTE=Warfish;2435579]The thread did not ASK for details. He asked "What Does America Mean to You?" and I answered that.

    Each of these issues/topics could and has...endlessly....been debated here on the "details", in most of which my more detailed opinions can be found.



    I'm glad you find my idealism "cute". A question was raised, and I answered it. What I find funny is that instead of answering it yourself, with your own views, you felt it more important to mock mine and play "***** from the sideline guy". Good for you.

    I knew answering this question would get me nothing but grief and trolling.[/QUOTE]I'm not mocking you bro, it was merely a rebuttal, and those are my own views. It sounded to me like you gave the answer everyone wants to hear; a romantic, wildly optimistic "idealism" as you put it. My contention is that you may not agree with me that America is an empty shell of what it once was, but you know deep down the values you're speaking of aren't upheld as they were when they were instituted, or even as they were 50 years ago..

  17. #17
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    [QUOTE=Warfish;2435579]The thread did not ASK for details. He asked "What Does America Mean to You?" and I answered that.

    Each of these issues/topics could and has...endlessly....been debated here on the "details", in most of which my more detailed opinions can be found.
    [/QUOTE]

    I haven't been long a member of this part of JI so my apologies if I haven't read your more extensive responses. I could only respond to your fairly aphoristic statements here. You will agree, I think, that a principle means little unless you can spell out how you would apply it in practical terms. Libertarianism is fraught with paradoxes if you have any stake at all in the course of a nation. Just plain difficult; perhaps impossible. Anyway, I don't completely oppose your views, merely see them as requiring modification toward the mean in practice.

  18. #18
    [QUOTE=nationalist88;2435665]I'm not mocking you bro, it was merely a rebuttal, and those are my own views. It sounded to me like you gave the answer everyone wants to hear; a romantic, wildly optimistic "idealism" as you put it. My contention is that you may not agree with me that America is an empty shell of what it once was, but you know deep down the values you're speaking of aren't upheld as they were when they were instituted, or even as they were 50 years ago..[/QUOTE]

    I gave an answer I believe deeply in.

    But I agree, these values are most certainly NOT our core values today. Look at the vast majority of problems, and I mean REAL problems, today....and you can trace most to the utter abandonment of these values.

    [QUOTE=long island leprechaun;2435959]I haven't been long a member of this part of JI so my apologies if I haven't read your more extensive responses. I could only respond to your fairly aphoristic statements here. You will agree, I think, that a principle means little unless you can spell out how you would apply it in practical terms. Libertarianism is fraught with paradoxes if you have any stake at all in the course of a nation. Just plain difficult; perhaps impossible. Anyway, I don't completely oppose your views, merely see them as requiring modification toward the mean in practice.[/QUOTE]

    I agree that theory does little in and of itself, and policy ( and the vast minutia that it is) is what counts.

    But I believe that faith and adherance to the core principles I laid out should be used to craft said policy. Of course my list was simplistic (the nature of the thread itself calls for simplism), but that does not mean crafting policy with these "core values" in mind is a bad idea.

    It's just not being done today. Hard to tell how they'd work if never tried.

  19. #19
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    [QUOTE=Company_Man;2435509]What about bullies?

    :bigcry:[/QUOTE]

    Awwww...still got the vapors because of Janet's boobie?

  20. #20
    [QUOTE=long island leprechaun;2435959]I haven't been long a member of this part of JI so my apologies if I haven't read your more extensive responses. I could only respond to your fairly aphoristic statements here. You will agree, I think, that a principle means little unless you can spell out how you would apply it in practical terms. Libertarianism is fraught with paradoxes if you have any stake at all in the course of a nation. Just plain difficult; perhaps impossible. Anyway, I don't completely oppose your views, merely see them as requiring modification toward the mean in practice.[/QUOTE]

    Principle only means little to someone focused on the pragmatic. Ideals have and will often continue to drive change (both good and bad) ............ slavery, civil rights, enlightenment, our very own Constiution and "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Think of the impact that principle has had on our land.

    Remember the story of Socrates drinking the hemlock?

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