American Elephants

Pro-American Calls to Return to First Principles by The Elephant's Child

In the wake of so much good news for the economy, you might find Myron Magnet’s article in City Journal from last January 31, 2018, on President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address interesting. It resounded, he said, with calls to return to first principles. So perhaps all those journalists who have been carping and criticizing for the entire past year, either didn’t listen or simply did not hear what Myron Magnet did – a year ago.

What I heard above all in President Trump’s moving, presidential, and authentically American State of the Union speech was a Hamiltonian assurance that, in America, no matter where you come from—like the brilliant illegitimate immigrant from Nevis who became our first Treasury secretary—“If you work hard, if you believe in yourself, if you believe in America, then you can dream anything, you can be anything.” And that’s because in America our motto is ‘in God we trust’”—the God who guarantees, as the Declaration of Independence assures us, that we all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, the right to work out our own fate, according to our own lights. That individual right precedes government; government exists to protect it. There was something revolutionary, with a spark of a new birth of freedom, in Trump’s assertion that “In America, we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of the American life.” How anti-Progressive! How anti-New Deal!

Myron Magnet is City Journal’s editor-at-large, a recipient of  the National Humanities Medal. His latest book is The Founders at Home

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