What MAKES America, America?

Essay

BY JANE CHANEY

During the founding of America, following colonization by the British, there were painstaking efforts made to study ancient civilizations and different types of government.  The founders wanted to ensure that at the basis of American government would be the people…of, by and for the people, and that those in government would derive their consent from the people. In other words, the people would be in charge of making the laws that governed them. It was not the job of the government to dictate to the people. They settled on a Constitutional Republic.  Hence the enumerated powers granted to the federal government, “by the people” in our Constitution.

What MAKES America, America?

During the many years of America growing up and our history being recorded, we have had to face the pain of our past. We have had to search our souls. We have had to learn to walk the talk…all men are created equal.

While slavery spanned many cultures, nationalities and religions, in almost every ancient civilization, sadly, it came to our shores. The Portuguese, Spanish, British, French, Dutch and a number of West African kingdoms played a prominent role in the Atlantic slave trade, especially after 1600.  It is a dark time in our history. And, as the founders and early governors continued in their attempts, nurtured by the will of the American people to create a more perfect union, our Constitution was amended.

Before the Thirteenth Amendment, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared his Emancipation Proclamation which freed over three million slaves in the Confederate-controlled states. In June 1865 immediately following the end of the Civil War, the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified to abolish slavery in the United States.  

In 1868 the Fourteenth Amendment granted citizenship and equal civil and legal rights to African Americans and slaves who had been emancipated after the Civil War, including them under the umbrella phrase “all persons born or naturalized in the United States.”

Shortly afterwards in 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified prohibiting states from denying ANY male citizen the right to vote based on race, color or previous condition of servitude.  And, in 1964 the Twenty-Fourth Amendment was ratified making poll taxes illegal in federal elections and in 1966, the Supreme Court ruled poll taxes were banned in all state elections. Poll taxes discriminated against those who were less educated and in lower incomes.

But, even given the laws, there was more to do. After a long, hard-fought struggle and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin and later sexual orientation, the 1965 Voting Rights Act was passed. This Act was written to ensure the enforcement of the Fifteenth Amendment and helping overcome legal barriers that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote.  It is worth mentioning that during that time, there were 6 African Americans in the US House of Representatives and in 1971, the first African American was elected to the US Senate.

What MAKES America, America?

You can see that America’s efforts to heal the sins of her past began almost 160 years ago and continues today; that America’s goal and our people’s desire is to help right the wrongs of our past. What efforts are needed to lift up those who were oppressed during America’s founding? How is the playing field leveled?

If you follow some of the great African American leaders, philosophers and educators today, they will tell you education is the cornerstone to success in life. That a child’s zip code must not determine the quality and level of the education a child receives.  In his book, “Charter Schools and Their Enemies,” Dr. Thomas Sowell, an African American scholar explains how a fifth-grade class in a Harlem charter school scored higher on a mathematics test than any other fifth-grade class in the entire state of New York. He also describes waiting lists of over 50,000 low-income minorities waiting to enroll their child in a charter school in NY.

President Trump, who if re-elected, will begin work to get legislation passed to allow parents to have school choice. This means that a parent’s tax dollars that pay for a child’s education can “follow the child.” This will allow ALL parents to pay for whatever type of school they wish their child to attend…public, private, religious, charter, etc. regardless of their zip code.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities were established prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and after the Civil War to provide institutions of higher learning for African Americans by African Americans. In December 2019, President Trump signed a bill restoring $255 million in annual funding that had lapsed on September 30 after Congress failed to renew it.  Senate lawmakers reached a bipartisan deal that saved the funding and added an amendment that will simplify the form that determines a students’ eligibility for financial aid.

What MAKES America, America?

Inner cities around America find their neighborhoods being hollowed out by policy that works against the creation of small business and jobs.  Sen. Tim Scott (R), an African American from SC worked with President Trump and Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Dr. Ben Carson also an African American, to develop Opportunity Zones.  This provision was included in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to lift underserved and distressed communities with the purpose of bringing people up out of poverty. To date, over 75 billion dollars of private investment has been made in over 8,000 designated Opportunity Zones to help start small businesses and create jobs.

What MAKES America, America?

Historically, America has always been a force for good. Over past decades, have mistakes been made? Yes. But America’s strength must be used to protect not only ourselves but also to the extent, that we can help defend others being denied their God given rights and freedom. It’s important we maintain a military whose strength can be used not for war, but to encourage peace. Under President Trump, our military has been restored from a reduction we hadn’t seen since before WWII. Weakness provokes threats. Threats to America and freedom loving people around this world are real. We are back to being “ready.” A quote from Florida businessman, Cuban born Maximo Alvarez on what he sees happening in America: “I am seeing shadows of what I thought I had outrun.”

What MAKES America, America?

The courage of our founders and those who fought for America through every war that has come before us.

The decency of Americans who worked tirelessly to help right the wrongs of our past.

The life-changing joy of all immigrants who continue to come here with the desire to respect our Constitution, our laws, our civil society and our American values; to become Americans.

Government that respects our individual and God given freedoms outlined in our Bill of Rights.

Politicians who create an atmosphere of freedom in support of all American’s in their pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

The dedication of our men and women in uniform be they military, national guard, police or first responders to fire or emergency.

And, the right to vote in free and fair elections in support of candidates who cherish America, who believe in America’s exceptionalism; who will be true to a Constitution unlike any other in the world, not trying to change it for political expediency.

What MAKES America, America?

As a daughter of a WWII veteran and whose grandfathers fought in WWI and uncles in WWII, I have looked at history to understand why we engaged in these two wars…why we sent our military overseas to foreign shores, where sadly, many died as did my Mother’s father, my grandfather, as a result of that war. Until I became a young adult in my late 20’s, I never thought about the treasure, taxpayer money, that also was used to engage in these two wars.

Now, as a person in my late 60’s, it is all extremely clear to me.  In defense of our Constitutional Republic, it was a calling, it was a duty for these men and women at the time, to protect what they held dear… individual freedom, independence and their God given liberties; a limited government that would allow each American access to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It was the threat of communism, socialism and Marxism that mustered their courage to defend America. Today, I fear the spent blood and treasure of the past could be for naught and forgotten, unless more of us truly understand what Makes America, America.

Those who would pit Americans against Americans, creating “identity groups” by sex, sexual orientation, skin color, religion and background, using our differences to divide us, do not see the greatness of America. Let’s vote for What MAKES America, America!

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.