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I think former Texas Attorney General John Ben Shepperd captured the essence of Americanism in the way that ended many of his extraordinary speeches:

The greatest fault of the American people is our materialism and lack of real concern for good government. Half of us are trying to buy all the good things of life with money and the other half are trying to vote them into existence.

But who can open a safety deposit box and file away a title to an American sunset?

Who can lay gold on the counter and buy the look of trust and innocence in a child’s eyes?

Can anybody dig into his pocketbook and buy a good conscience or a lifetime of proud accomplishment?

No man can trade hard cash for the companionship of a true friend nor purchase at any price the love and devotion of a good woman.

Because freedom is old, not young, yet it is born anew in the first cry of a free man’s son;

It is not a living thing, yet it dies if we do not love it;

It is not weak, yet it must be defended;

It is light, yet it weighs heavy on him who is without it;

It is without price, yet it dearly costs the one who sells it;

It is not small, but great; yet once lost, it is never, never found again.

Yes, to be born free is an accident;
To live free is a responsibility;
But to die free is an obligation.

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Although there is an undeniable linkage to our great past as a nation, we simply cannot revert to the past in an effort to re-achieve current or future greatness. What will make us great again in the second decade of the 21st Century is somewhat different from what made us great at various times in the 20th Century. Our current context is significantly different. It is far more complex and technology has made a non-negligible impact on what we do and how we do it in today’s world.

There do exist, however, some cornerstones of Americanism that can be lifted from the social structures of the past and emplaced in the structures we are now building and will continue to build in the future. The job of a cornerstone is to provide ample support for the entire building – without it, the building will collapse. These intrinsic and timeless values are and will be the cornerstones of the New Americanism. These cornerstones correspond to the chapters within this book. They are not exclusive – simply the ones that leap to the fore in a clear and compelling way.

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I have heard people offer the opinion that it is wrong and somewhat provocative to claim American Exceptionalism. They say that we are the same as everyone else in the world and to think that we are somehow exceptional is prideful, naïve, or downright boastful. These opinions are wrong because they are based on an erroneous idea of superiority over everyone else in the world. I mostly use the term in reference to our type of government – a Constitutional Republic. We could also be exceptional in other ways too, like for our benevolence, frontier spirit, or courageous citizenry, as well as a host of other factors typically espoused as American. The fact is, however, that American Exceptionalism generally refers to the extraordinarily successful and durable form of government that has sustained us throughout our 240-year history.

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It’s on many politicians’ agendas and personal platform for this year’s elections – how to best protect Americans from harm, both at home and abroad. What kind of collective defense structure does the nation need for our times and for the future? How can we best protect ourselves from each other when the need arises? These are tough questions but we must confront them with a bold and fresh outlook and discard some of our 20th Century thinking that just doesn’t address the current context.

A cornerstone of the New Americanism is a shared matrix of individual and collective defense structures. In other words, Americans will assume a greater share of defending their persons at home while protecting the nation will be the primary job of the armed services. The collective defense will also have to be restructured around known and projected national threats rather than around the classic service components such as the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, etc.

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