French President and American Exceptionalism
- 11 November 2007 by Author 0 Comments
French President and American Exceptionalism
By Richard Larsen
Published – Idaho State Journal, 11/11/07
For years we’ve heard cries of lament from some segments of our society that the U.S. has lost its leadership in the world, that the world hates us, and that we must “reach out” to the rest of the world to regain that once treasured global respect. Those engaged in this lament must have fallen off their chairs when French President Nicolas Sarkozy addressed a joint session of Congress earlier this week.
Apparently much of that perception of negativity was created by Jacque Chirac and Gerhard Shroeder, for ever since they were replaced by Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, relationships with our European allies have appeared stronger than ever. Interestingly, Sarkozy defeated a widely heralded leftist woman, which fact has apparently been lost on much of the American press covering the European elections. In democracies, or republics as the United States is, leaders are voted for not because of their gender or their race, but because of their ideas and leadership. That leadership was very much on display by President Sarkozy earlier this week.
In his comments to Congress he said, “To the millions of men and women who came from every country of the world and who — with their own hands, their intelligence, and their hearts — built the greatest nation in the world, America did not say, ‘Come, and everything will be given to you.’ Rather, she said, ‘Come, and the only limits to what you will be able to achieve will be those of your own courage, your boldness, and your talent.’”
It appears that this new French President understands American exceptionalism in a way that many Americans don’t. We are not a socialist state where “everyone is equal,” only some are “more equal” than others. This is a country of unlimited opportunity and equality of opportunity.
We are limited only by our own personal limitations of reduced vision, poor work ethic, or lack of industry. For the opportunity is equal for all of us. He was elected on a platform of reducing the pejorative effect of socialism on French society and their economy, and a vow to reduce the internal threats associated with unrestricted immigration.
Sarkozy continued, “The America that we love throughout the world impedes this extraordinary ability to grant each and every person a second chance, another chance, because, in America, failure is never the last word. There is always another chance. Here — in your country, on this soil — both the humblest and the most illustrious citizens alike know that nothing is owed to them and that everything has to be earned. That is what constitutes the moral value of America.”
These comments were made on the heels of a visit by George W. and the French President at Mt. Vernon. It wasn’t the first George W. and Rochambeau, but 21st Century French and American counterparts. Yet the language unmistakably reflects what must have constituted much of the discussion from that first French-American summit at Mt. Vernon.
Sarkozy continued, “America liberated us, and this is an eternal debt we owe America. Every time, whenever an American soldier falls somewhere in the world, I think of what the American army did for France. I think of them — and I am sad as one is saddened to lose a member of one’s family.”
What a thrill to hear a French President not only express his respect of America and her greatness, but to show gratitude for what we did to save their country twice in the last century, and express such a debt of gratitude and respect for our men and women in uniform who thwarted the fascist movement that would have them speaking German today.
With very little exception, U.S. involvement throughout the world especially over the past 100 years, has not been for imperialism. It has been for advancing the cause of freedom and liberty for those unable to defend themselves or unable to throw off the yoke of bondage imposed by their totalitarian rulers. It has been noted that after a war, the U.S. only asks for enough soil to bury our dead on. We ask no more. That was certainly the case with Europe after World Wars I and II, to which the French President refers.
Sarkozy’s closing remarks produced a standing ovation. He said, “We need France to be stronger. I am determined to carry through with the reforms that my country has put off for all too long. I will not turn back. I will implement all of them, because France has turned back for all too long. I have come to present to you today a France that comes out to meet America, to renew the covenant of friendship and alliance that Washington and Lafayette sealed in Yorktown. Together, let us be true to their memories. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I say this to you on behalf of the French people: Long live the United States of America. Long live France. Long live French-American friendship!”
Not an anomaly among global leaders, Sarkozy verbalizes the respect and admiration for the U.S. held by lovers of freedom, liberty, and principle. Those who “hate” us are terrorists who seek our destruction or are envious of our global preeminence in spite of our relative national youthfulness, or those who feel guilty for the privileges we enjoy. But for those who appreciate the principles upon which this country was founded, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness America stands as a beacon of hope for the rest of the world.
Sarkozy’s speech serves as a reminder of the greatness of America, and her goodness. His presentation to Congress was probably the best lecture on American exceptionalism delivered in many years and solidifies in my mind the realization that we are not hated by the rest of the world, we are loathed by the left wherever in the world they may be from.
Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.