As we approach July 4—the day when we celebrate our freedom in America—let’s take some time to recognize what makes America unique. Every year, hundreds of thousands of individuals line up to enter the United States in search of the American dream. Have you ever stopped to wonder about what makes America so unique? Why do we not see masses looking to immigrate to countries such as China, Mexico, Germany, Peru, Switzerland, or even Australia? Why do they want to come HERE?
Make no mistake: The United States is far from perfect. The “Land of the Free” is facing unprecedented challenges that threaten our way of life: surging gas prices, rapidly rising inflation, the humanitarian crisis at our southern border, escalating crime and lawlessness in our cities, and the undermining of our culture by those who hate America.
Despite this, America remains a bright beacon of hope for the rest of the world. Let’s explore some of the reasons why.
America’s greatness is tied to our…
1. Opportunity to Generate Wealth
The United States of America—under capitalism—has held the reputation of the largest economy in the world since 1871. The United States holds a 23.6% share (nearly a fourth) of the world’s economy with an annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $21.44 trillion. The bottom 173 countries combined comprise less than one-fourth of the total global economy (Silver, 2022).
An individual who makes just $34,000 annual income is in the top 1% of the richest people in the world, and half of the world’s wealthiest individuals live in the United States.
Countless people who have come to America in search of the dream have discovered it!
Mayra Flores—who recently won a special election to secure a seat in the House of Representatives—is a glowing example. Flores hails from Burgos Tamaulipas, Mexico, and is the child of migrant workers. During her speech to Congress following her win, Flores remarked, “I have risen from working in the cotton fields to representing the community I love in the U.S. Congress” (Flores, 2022).
Americans also hold a reputation for being some of the most generous people on the planet. According to a MarketWatch article, “The United States is the No. 1 most generous country in the world for the last decade” (Albrecht, 2019). Americans gave more than $427 billion in 2018 to US charities alone, to say nothing of charities worldwide providing relief to children and adults of impoverished countries.
Although capitalism is often criticized, many across the world understand that free markets benefit everyone, including the poorest segment of the population. It’s a misnomer that capitalism increases poverty. Instead of creating more poverty, capitalism creates more prosperity at all socioeconomic levels.
Many Americans have risen out of poverty as a result of policies that promote capitalism. This is, after all, the American dream.
2. Mandate to Self-govern
Self-governance is also a trademark of America. Many around the world only dream of having a government for the people, by the people. A self-governing body means that individuals have the opportunity to elect their government representatives.
If a citizen dislikes the choices made by those elected to office, he or she had the ability—and obligation—to vote them out of office. And when someone’s rights are violated, our laws empower individuals to hold the perpetrators responsible through filing lawsuits and other measures.
And even though much has happened lately to call attention to the cracks in our election system, as a self-governing body, average citizens around the country are stepping up to safeguard our elections—something that could never happen in many countries across the planet.
Authoritarian governments silence their opposition and oppress their citizens by proliferating government corruption. Many governments work to keep their populations poor and uneducated so that they are easier to exploit. Many countries throughout Africa and Asia are notorious for slave labor operations which benefit government officials but impoverish the general population.
For example, the Democratic Republic of Congo is home to the world’s largest open-pit mining development. The Manono Lithium-Tin Project excavates over 4 million tons of lithium, cesium, tantalum, and other rare metals each year needed for cell phones and other electronic devices. D.R. Congo was a prime candidate for this project because, among other reasons, Congo doesn’t have child labor laws. Videos have surfaced recently showing children as young as six years old working in these mines.
Tragically, this is not an isolated example. Uzbekistan, even in 2022, has over one million modern slaves trapped in the cotton industry, mostly women and children. This is over 4% of the country’s population (Griffin, 2021). Although the concept may seem foreign to most Americans, many around the world do not have access to even basic human rights.
A key element of self-governance is the decentralization of power. This is why our founders separated the power of government between three separate branches with distinct and exclusive responsibilities: the Executive Branch, The Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch. The writers of our Constitution understood the need for checks and balances to prevent the United States from becoming a totalitarian regime like the one they escaped in England.
The concept of decentralizing power is also why our laws prevent the federal government from imposing its will on individual states. Preventing one party or group of individuals from holding all the power is critical to protecting a government for the people, by the people. Recent decisions by the Supreme Court to return governing authority back to the states is a win for Democracy, regardless of our opinion on the issues.
Do you know what else makes America unique? Check-in next week to find out!