What Makes America Great
Becky E. Hites
March 8, 2020
What Makes America Great? One of my campaign tag lines is “Defending Our Heritage”. What do I mean by this? Does America have a perfect history? Of course not. When the country was formed in 1776, women were not permitted to participate or have a voice in the governance of our country (and not for over a hundred years until 1920). Many of the multiplicity of cultures and peoples who make our great country what it is today were denied their rights to participate in society and even to make decisions about their individual lives. One of my Pennsylvania ancestors fought in the Civil War to abolish slavery and in fact was taken prisoner in a GA battle and was incarcerated for a period in Andersonville, GA (it’s SUCH a small world).
There have been times when our society hasn’t been as welcoming as it should have been to the communities of people who have come to our shores (I think of the Jewish communities in NYC at the turn of the century, and the current resurgence of hate crimes in NY and other communities) and the Irish communities in NYC in the 1930s and the Asian communities on the West Coast (starting in the 1850s and the California gold rush and not truly resolved until the 1940s). But generally we’ve been a “live and let live” society with an economic structure that rewards ingenuity and risk taking when successful. There’s no “caste” system or structural prohibition that limits anyone’s ability to creatively contribute to the generation of economic value; even from crazy schemes like pet rocks and chia pets.
Our system is structured that even when the risk taking is ill conceived, the bankruptcy mechanism allows for a recovery after a relatively brief penalty period. If one is always limited to only trying things that you’re sure you’ll be successful at, no great “leap frog” accomplishment can be achieved. The most successful economic structures for communities and their citizens should encourage and facilitate the creativity of trying a new concept or a newly envisioned process.
America was, and is, a place where you could start over and have a strong chance to materially improve your life, which is why we’re the envy of many global citizens.
Sometimes it seems like those interested in migrating here more highly value our freedoms and opportunities than some of our socialist leaning leaders.
The country has benefitted from a success bias. What I mean by this is that we’re a country of immigrants; historically regulated and orderly but still much more accessible than many other developed countries.
People dreamed of coming here because of the economic opportunity, strived to identify a path to migrate here, respected our rule of law that guarded against arbitrary and retaliatory unregulated punishments, appreciated our protections of religious and human rights, and ultimately valued becoming an American above everything else in their lives.
I object to amnesty for those in our country illegally because it rewards the disregard of law and penalizes those who wished to immigrate but honored our rules and returned to their respective countries. I’m sympathetic to the “innocent” people caught in the middle, but there are plenty of examples of new citizens who did NOT break the law and immigrated here legally. I’ve been honored to attend a naturalization ceremony and welcome these new citizens to our great country.
We still encourage that aspiration, but our legislative leaders in Congress have abdicated their responsibility to craft appropriate laws to protect both our citizens, and those who wish to become members of our society, leading to incentives that reward abuse of the system rather than a respect for, and compliance with, the arguably “broken” system.
I don’t blame the law breakers as much as I blame the law makers, and have branded the lack of good governance “bad parenting.” We need law makers committed to writing better rules and sorting out the inequities and improper incentives embedded in our current system. America is not perfect and can always be improved, but our heritage is that we dig in to solve challenging tasks rather than shirking our responsibilities.
The rule of law, which makes our society safe and predictable for all, has increasingly been disrespected and disregarded, leading to the blatant abuse and astounding double standard of enforcement depending on which political party is in power. For instance, in a very simplistic example, hot red sports cars are much more likely to be targeted for speed limit law infractions than boring burgundy family sedans. The “Hot Stove Rule” needs to come back. The stove is hot. It will burn you, and it will burn every single person who touches it. There’s not one set of rules for normal people, another set of rules for the “privileged” and a third set of more punitive rules for those in our society who are powerless to fight back. And there certainly should NOT be a “get out of jail free” pass for people in our country illegally that have been accused of, and in some instances, convicted of breaking our laws. I grew up on military bases where there was a strong authority structure and while it may seem restrictive to some, it was empowering because everyone knew what the rules of the game were and could make their life choices accordingly.
I recently heard a story about a minor infraction being ignored in a training session and the leadership observed it was a sign of “rust.” We must take pride in our system and work diligently to make sure it is working effectively for all our citizens.
We need to drain the swamp of legislators who put their personal interests above those of their constituents. We need strong people with a track record of accomplishing their goals to go to DC and dig in to resolve complicated, difficult challenges that don’t have easy answers and will require compromise to accommodate many different viewpoints and priorities but in the end will provide a structure that is transparent and effective for all of our citizens. This is the melting pot heritage of our great diverse country that I love and value enough to re-prioritize my life energy towards preserving.
The pledge of allegiance to our flag states that we are one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all. This is the great heritage of America that I am now running for Congress to defend.
We need your help in these efforts. We need your prayers, we need your engagement and we need your contributions to fund the effort.