We go to great lengths to recover fallen comrades, we honor them in the most precise and exacting ceremonies, we set aside national holidays to remember and celebrate them. We do these things for them, of course, but also for us, the living. Their stories of heroism, of sacrifice, and of patriotism remind us of what is best in ourselves, and they teach our children what is best in America.
To understand a political scandal fully, one must take into account all of the interests of those involved. The problem is that these interests are rarely revealed—which is precisely why it is so tempting for partisans, particularly if they are at a political disadvantage, to resort to scandal to attack their opponents.
From this history we learn that it is not the nation-state, but the kinds of nation-states that matter. From the birth of political philosophy in ancient Athens, it has been understood in the West that the difference between good and bad regimes, just as between lives lived well and lives lived badly, is all-important.
Economists since Adam Smith have taught us that in a competitive economy, the pursuit of private interests leads to the best possible outcome for everybody. But notice the qualifier: for this arrangement to work, there must be competition.
I fear America may be leaving the world of normal politics and entering the dangerous world of regime politics—a politics in which our political loyalties diverge more and more, as they did in the 1850s, between two contrary visions of the country.
American medical care over this period has saved the lives of millions who could not have been saved before—life expectancy today is 78.6 years. It has relieved the pain and suffering of tens of millions more. But it has also become a monster that is devouring the American economy.
Historically, constitutional government has been found only in the nation-state, where the people share a common good and are dedicated to the same principles and purposes.
It seems, at times, that we live in an age when too many disregard the wisdom of the past. But here at Hillsdale you’ve been grounded in the teachings and traditions that are our greatest inheritance as Americans—the same teachings and traditions that are the surest foundation of a boundless American future.