Building on the American Heritage Series – The Truth of American Exceptionalism: Why has America been the most successful nation in the history of the world? Did this happen by accident or was there a cause for the effect? Tune in now while we talk about the answer to these questions and more!

Air Date: 01/28/2018

On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.

Faith And The Culture

Rick:

Welcome to the intersection of faith and politics. This is WallBuilders Live with David Barton and Rick Green. You can visit us online at WallBuildersLive.com and WallBuilders.com. At WallBuilders.com, you can get the entire Building on the American Heritage series programs.

Today, The Truth of American Exceptionalism. Here we are. We’re going to go straight to the set for Building on the American Heritage series.

Rick:

The United States of America has been the most successful nation in history. In every category, whatever you want to pick, at some time we’ve been number one. The wealthiest, most powerful. Did that happen by accident or was there a cause for the effect?

David:

Well what you described is known as American exceptionalism. And it goes back to a book in 1831 where Alexis de Tocqueville, writing about America, said, “The position of America is exceptional. I don’t think any other nation will attain to what they’ve attained to.” Now, that was some 50 years after America had been found as an independent nation. He came from France because France was going through a revolution every few years, he said, “What is the deal America?” He got here and said, “This is exceptional.”

What Is American Exceptionalism?

David:

Now, American exceptionalism, that’s the term that’s used most folks cannot define that term today. So, very simply, American exceptionalism is the unprecedented stability, prosperity, and liberty, that has resulted from institutions and policies that were produced by a unique set of ideas and philosophy.

So, it all starts with ideas and philosophy. From that grows institutions of policies which produce the stability, liberty, and prosperity that we enjoy. So, you have to go back to the beginning to the set of ideas.

Rick:

That’s the cause–

David:

The cause–

Rick:

–that gives us the effect later.

David:

You have to go back to the seeds that were originally planted, the philosophy of government that was originally set down in our Declaration, then encapsulated in the Constitution. The Declaration laid the foundation. The Constitution built the house on the foundation, if you will. You’ve got to go back that foundation. And that’s what has produced American exceptionalism.

Now, that’s made us different from all other nations. But what’s happened today is most folks cannot define American separate. They love it, they want it, they enjoy it, they’re starting to get hungry for it. In recent elections we had some freshman senators to the United States Senate elected that ran solely on the platform of American exceptionalism. America is an exceptional nation. We’re losing it. We need to get back to it.

These are the ideas that produced the exceptionalism, this is what we’ve got to recover in government. People said, “That’s what I want. That’s where I want to go.” So, they elected out of several diverse states guys who ran on the platform of American exceptionalism. So there is a hunger for it, but then there are those that also don’t like it–

David:

They don’t like it.

Rick:

They’re against this idea of exceptionalism.

David:

That’s right.

Why Are Some Against the Term “American Exceptionalism”?

Rick:

They don’t like the term. Why is that?

David:

Well there are– exceptionalism is produced by a set of ideas. And, by the way, when you go back to our founding documents, God’s the center of those ideas. The Declaration of Independence lays forth five principles of government – all starts with God. We start with, hey, there’s a Creator. The Creator gives rights to us individually. Government exists to protect the rights the Creator gave us. So, there’s people who don’t like that. Particularly, the fact that it’s based on God ideas.

Rick:

So, it’s not necessarily the exceptionalism they don’t like.

David:

Oh yeah.

Rick:

They’re thinking about the cause. They’re going back to those very seeds that were planted and don’t like them.

David:

They would love to take the secular ideas that the French used and make a nation on it. Well, the French tried that and they’ve gone through 15 constitutions while we’ve had one.

Rick:

Yeah.

David:

Those ideas do not produce the exceptionalism. And this is part of the reason that most Americans cannot define American exceptionalism. And even though we’re a great nation, if you ask an American, “Name five things America should be ashamed of and five things she should be proud of.”, they’ll start with the ashamed things and they’ll go through them a lot fast and they’ll get to about two or three over here and go, “Um…um…”

Knowing the Negatives More Than the Positives

Rick:

So, they know the negatives, but they don’t know the positives.

David:

They know the negatives, they don’t know the policies. And for the last 60 or so years that’s the way we have taught American history. It’s what’s called deconstructionism and post-structuralism. Now, those terms aren’t significantly important, but once I describe what they are, then everybody is going to recognize them.

But the bottom line of deconstruction and post-structuralism is you divide a unified nation into all sorts of groups and subsets.

So, we’re not Americans – we’re gay, we’re youth, we’re black, we’re women–

Rick:

Categories.

David:

–we’re white, we’re Hispanic. We’re not a nation – we’re all these groups that are out there. Post-structuralism says, “No, no, no, don’t look at individuals, look at groups. We have to divide you into groups.” That’s not a good approach.

Rick:

Because it’s dividing us.

David:

It is dividing us. And part of our national motto is In God We Trust. On the reverse side of the great seal the United States it says “E Pluribus Unum” which means “out of many one”. We have common values, common cohesiveness, we understand American exceptionalism.

But what’s happened in the last 50 years is we’ve taken “E Pluribus Unum” and reversed it and said, “Out of one many”.

Rick:

So, instead of saying we all come from these different backgrounds, but we’re Americans together–

Focusing on Division Instead of Unity

David:

That’s right.

Rick:

–we’re breaking it down and saying, “Well, we may be Americans, but we’re going to focus on what’s different.

David:

That’s exactly right. We’re going to focus on our division rather than our unity. So, that’s post-structuralism.

Deconstructionism – it’s what– we point out negatives. When God does history, He does the Good, the Bad, the Ugly. But what deconstructionism does is it does the bad and the ugly, but not the good. So, we’ll get the exception – not the rule. We’re going to point out – the Founding Fathers were atheist, agnostic, deist, and if you doubt that, just look at Jefferson and Franklin. Well, that’s two out of 56 guys who signed the Declaration. They’ll never point out that twenty nine of the 56 who signed the Declaration were ministers of the gospel. They were ministry trained, held Bible School, seminary degrees, etc..

Rick:

Yeah. “Oh, we’ll focus on a few that were slave owners and try to paint all of them that way.”–

David:

That’s exactly.

Rick:

And so therefore we shouldn’t listen–

David:

Jefferson owned slaves, all the signers of the Declaration– no, no, no, 70 percent of the signers of the Declaration were abolitionists, led abolition movement, did all sorts of civil rights activities.

So, deconstructionism says, “Oh, look how terrible America is. It’s irreligious. Look how terrible- it’s a bunch of racists and slave owners.” And we do this through our textbooks.

Now, there are several things we can point to. Great example – Alexis de Tocqueville I mentioned earlier did the American exceptionalism phrase. He came to America in 1831 as a public official from France, said, “What is it that’s different about you guys? You’re different from– everybody in the world knows you’re different.”

Wanting to Know Why

Rick:

So, already they could see that we were having successes–

David:

Oh yeah.

Rick:

–and wanted to know why.

David:

In France he’s been through a bunch, a bunch, of revolutions. In America, we’re just as stable and prosperous can be. Why? There’s got to be a cause and that’s what he came was to find – the cause. So, he wrote the book in 1835 that is now called Democracy in America. That’s the book. Now, we used to teach this in colleges, in public schools, in high schools. We always covered this because it showed us why we were exceptional. We don’t quite do it the same today. This is the modern textbook used in colleges today.

Rick:

It’s a little bit smaller.

David:

I think there’s probably something missing here. You read this, you read this, all the religious aspects, all the moral aspects, all the family aspects, are taken out. What I find intriguing on this, it says that, this this version right here, it says, it’s “Specially edited and abridged for the modern reader.”

Rick:

Now, wait, can you hold it up again? Let me see the difference in size. So, deconstruction ism is taken all the good out and only focusing on the bad and ugly, basically.

David:

Or, it’s only focusing on the secular. And, by the way–

Rick:

On the agenda that whoever put that together–

Another Significance

David:

These guys, it’s a secular agenda. And there’s one other significance here. When you open this one up, it’s called Democracy in America. You want to read the title there? Rick:

The Republic of the United States.

David:

So–

Rick:

Wait a minute, how– where do we get democracy if he called it a republic.

David:

Well, see, we pledge allegiance to Republic, article four of the Constitution prohibits us from becoming a democracy, we were always a constitutional republic. “No, no, no, we want that. We want to be a democracy.” Founding Fathers hated democracies. There are seven forms of government in the world, democracy is the worst of all forms – right down there with dictators and anarchists and others. Republic is the highest form of government. He came and examined the Republic of the United States, but we call it democracy.

Rick:

David, I’ve heard of this book all my life, at college, law school, that is the first time I’ve ever heard that his book was originally calling us a republic as well.

David:

That’s right. And, see, deconstructionists will take out the exception to the rule, or they’ll take out their agenda. And his agenda is not religion, family, and morality, so that’s what we’re going to study. You have a bunch of books like this.

This is Charles Beard who was a popular writer in the 20s, 30s, 40s, in America. He has here a book called The Economic Basis of Politics. Is money the only thing that runs politics? Is all your vote directed by money? It’s certainly not mine.

Rick:

One issue of many.

One Issue of Many

David:

That’s one issue of many moral issues – size of government, limited government, there’s a ton of stuff out there. But we’re going to get an economic basis of politics. And at school we’re going to study an economic interpretation of the Constitution of the United States, and we’re going to study the economic origins of Jeffersonian democracy.

So in the 1960s we officially adopted this as the way we teach history. It’s called “The Economic View of American History”. When you read the Declaration of Independence, it’s 27 grievances given in the Declaration on why we separated from Great Britain. All we’re going to study is the one that says taxation without representation.

Rick:

Even Schoolhouse Rock, that was the one issue–

David:

That’s the one.

Rick:

–Declaration of Independence, taxation without representation.

David:

That’s one out of twenty seven. That’s four percent of the reason and that’s the only one we’re going to study. So, we’re going base everything in America, we’re going to say, “Hey, the only reason government exists is economic things.”

No, no, no, there’s four clauses in the Declaration that deal with judicial abuses. Judges being out of control really ticked off the founders. You have seven clauses that deal with military abuses, eleven clauses that deal with issues of legislative abuses, two clauses that deal with wanting to end slavery, wanting to end slavery, civil right, equality for everybody – that’s twice as much as–

What Are They Cutting Out

Rick:

But that doesn’t fit the deconstruction view they want to label these guys.

David:

No, that doesn’t fit the deconstruction view. And you have you have books like this one, don’t much know much about history, real popular book and it’s supposed to inform you about the things of history that you don’t know. So, as you go through this book and you get in here, it has the Mayflower Compact which is really good. That’s the first government document written. We really ought to have the Mayflower Compact. And as you look at it, it has an ellipse right there.

Rick:

So, it’s cutting something out.

David:

It’s cutting something– what did it cut out? It says, “We whose names are underwritten…” I wonder what’s missing.

Rick:

What are they cutting out?

David:

“–having undertaken for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith.” “Oh, we can’t say that, we can’t say they came here for Christian purposes… So you’ve got that. Then you get over here to  Patrick Henry, real simple, you see the “…” there? What does it say there?

Rick:

Okay, so, “Is life so dear or peace so sweet to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. I know not what course others–” now, there’s an ellipse right there cutting out something–

David:

Right, now this is–

Taking God Out

Rick:

–he says, “I know not what course others may take–” now, everybody knows this part– “–but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.” So, what did we lose?

David:

Forbid it, Almighty God.

Rick:

So, we’re taking God out.

David:

Read it again and put “Forbid it, Almighty God” in.

Rick:

“Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others–” It totally changes the view because–

David:

Totally changes the view.

Rick:

–saying God’s in charge.

The Maxims of George Washington

David:

That’s deconstructionism. One other good example that we have right here is this book right here. Now, this is called The Maxims of George Washington. And what this guy did back in 1855, John Frederick Schroeder, he took all of Washington’s writings– now, Washington has a hundred volumes of writings today that are collected and out there. And he took and divided all the wisdom of Washington into four categories – political, social, moral, and religious. That’s the four categories.

So, what he did at that time, 1855, was he took all of Washington’s advice on morality, or on politics, or on agriculture, or on anything at all, and as he collected those statements in Washington he then would introduce each chapter by having those who knew Washington talk about them. So, Washington on military issues, he’d have all the generals that were still alive talk about–

Rick:

So, that’s a firsthand account.

David:

Firsthand account.

Rick:

That’s people that are right there.

David:

Firsthand account. It was reprinted in 1989. This is a current reprint of it right there and it’s still the maxims of George Washington, and it still has the political, military, social, moral, and religious, maxims of Washington.

Rick:

It sounds like you’re going to get everything that was in here.

David:

When you go to the section on religion, back here in the section on religion when it talked about Washington’s faith, it had his pastor said, “Washington is a dedicated Christian.” It had those who served with him in Congress talked about “Washington is dedicated Christian.” It had Chief Justice John Marshall, the U.S. Supreme Court, “Washington is a dedicated Christian.” You’ve got all these guys who knew him personally said, “Christian, Christian, Christian.”

We get this book here. They cut out every eyewitness account and they have a modern Professor tell us that Washington is one of the great deist Founding Fathers.

Isn’t That Revision?

Rick:

Isn’t that revision?

David:

It’s totally revision.

Rick:

Isn’t that totally changing what the true history is and creating a perception that’s not true?

David:

The left his maxims in there, but they took out all the eyewitnesses and said, “I’m a PhD, I’m an expert, I’m telling you George Washington’s a deist. See–

Rick:

What about his farewell address. We used to study that, but I’ve noticed in textbooks now if I can get any piece of his farewell address those ellipses are all over the place.

David:

Those ellipses are all over it. That’s right.

Rick:

What are they cutting out there?

David:

Well, the problem with his farewell address is that it is so stinking religious. It’s got so much God in it, it’s got so much morality. Washington says, our prosperity, he says, “Of all the habits and dispositions that lead to political prosperity.” He already knew we were an exceptional nation.

Rick:

So, he’s saying, “Here’s the formula, but of all the pieces of it–”

David:

Of all the pieces that make us politically prosperous he said religion and morality are indispensable supports. Of everything that makes us different from other countries religion and morality are the two you can’t separate out. These are the two that have–

Rick:

So, then, that’s what gets us the results. And surely, we all still want the great results. We want to still be the most successful nation in history. If you change the formula will you not get different results?

Changed Formula = Different Results

David:

You will get different results. The prosperity, the stability, liberty, we have came from the institutions and the policies that were produced by the seeds of the philosophy and the set of ideas that we started with – which was God at the center of what we did. And that’s why it’s important for us to know our history, to know what American exceptionalism is, to know what produced it, to know that it’s being attacked by deconstructionism and structuralism trying to move us off of those fundamental principles. If we can understand American exceptionalism, understand why we are prosperous, and free, and stable, we can go back and protect those seeds that have caused us to be a different nation.

Rick:

Okay, David, let’s see what the audience is asking about American exceptionalism.

David:

Sounds good.

How Can We Not Look at History in Groups?

Unknown Speaker:

The separation of people groups – whether economic, racial, religious, or political, reasons have been prevalent throughout history. How can we not look at history in groups?

Rick:

Well, how can we not break it down into either races or religious categories when we look at history?

David:

Jesus didn’t come to die for groups – He came to die for individuals. God doesn’t look down and say, “Oh, you’ve done really good. I’m going to bless your group.” No, you’ve done really good, I’m going to bless you. If you’ve been a good and faithful servant– now, you may–, that blessing may extend to others as it did with Abraham, it goes through, but it still was individual. It wasn’t to a group – it was to Abraham and the blessing extended from that.

So. God looks at individuals, He deals with individuals, that’s the way we should do it as well. Now, the problem we have in America is we’ve really corrupted a system in the last several decades that’s forced us to look at groups. We even did that with our tax policy. See, when the Constitution was first written back at the beginning, we had a tax policy that was called capitation tax. And capitation tax is based on what you see in Leviticus and Numbers – everybody gets taxed, it’s across the board.

Rick:

It’s the same for every person.

David:

It’s the same. We have that with the tithe – everybody pays a tithe. Well, what if you’re rich? Well, your tithe may be eight hundred bulls. What if you’re poor? Your tithe may be one turtle dove.

Even in Approaching God It’s Not Based On Our Class

Rick:

So, even in approaching God, it’s not based on our class.

David:

It’s not based on class. Every one of us– as Jesus told the parable, hey, there was the sinner in the temple, he beat his breast, and said “I’m a sinner”. And there was a righteous guy who went into the temple and said, “Look at me, God, I do everything right.” God heard which prayer? Wasn’t based on the class. It wasn’t based on whether you were rich or poor, it was based on the humility of your heart.

So, that’s the way God has always treated us, that’s what’s always been in the Scriptures. And as we recovered the Bible through the Reformation, we’ve gone back to individual. That’s why with the Constitution and Declaration we have individual rights.

This Precarious Moment Book

David:

This is David Barton. I want to let about a brand new book we have called This Precarious Moment: Six Urgent Steps That Will Save You, Your family, and Our Country. Jim Garlow and I have co-authored this book and we take six issues that are hot in the culture right now.

Issues that we’re dealing with, issues such as immigration, race relations, our relationship with Israel, the rising generation Millennials, and the absence of the church in the culture wars, and where American heritage is, our godly heritage. We look at all six of those issues right now that are under attack and we give you both Biblical and historical perspective on those issues that provide solutions on what each of us can do right now to make a difference.

These are all problems that are solvable if we’ll get involved. So you can grab the book This Precarious Moment and find out what you can do to make a difference. This Precarious Moment is available at WallBuilders.com.

Protecting the Minority from the Majority

David:

This is really strange, but the courts the United States have this position that says the bill of rights exists to protect the minority from the majority.

Rick:

So, that’s separating us into groups as well, then.

David:

That’s dead wrong. Are you telling me I lose the right of free speech because I’m in the majority? That because I’m the majority I don’t have the right to worship God according to– The Bill of Rights was given to grant specific protections to every single individual against government – not against minorities, or majorities, or anything else.

So, if I happen to be white and male and that puts me in majority thing. So, that means if I go to court I don’t get the right to a trial by jury, I don’t get the right to an attorney because I’m in the majority – that’s nonsense.

Rick:

It’s for all of us.

David:

It’s for every one of us. It has nothing to do with what group we’re a part of. So, the courts have really enforced that, we’ve done that through our tax policy, the courts have said, “Oh, no, it’s minority versus majority.” Nonsense. God deals with every one of us individually. God is completely colorblind. He doesn’t care what color we are. He doesn’t even care what language we speak. God deals with us individually on what’s inside the heart and how we behave on the outside.

So, the concept of groups, that’s a man imposed institution. God deals with the individuals and that’s really the way we need to think with those around us. That’s the way we’ve gone back in textbooks, is we’ve rewritten textbooks and history standards, we’re moving back in the direction of, hey, individuals are what did things – it wasn’t groups that did things in America – it was individuals who did things.

Rick:

If someone fought for my freedom, I don’t care what their color is–

Judging By Their Fruits

David:

That’s exactly right.

Rick:

–I don’t care what their religion is. What’s important to me is that they actually accomplish–

David:

What they did.

Rick:

Yeah.

David:

You judge them by their fruits – not by the titles they wear.

Rick:

That’s right.

David:

My title says, “Hey, I’m white, I’m Protestant, I’m conservative, I–” no, no, no. You judge them by their fruit. You’ve got guys who are white, conservative, Protestant, that we don’t want anything to do with. And you’ve got guys that would be called liberal, and whatever else, that we would say, “Hey, they’ve got the right fruits.”

Rick:

That’s right.

David:

I’ll go with them every time. There’s a lot of Jewish folks that I would vote for hands down before I’d vote for a lot of Christians because they produce biblical fruit.

Rick:

That’s right.

David:

Where Christians sometimes don’t. So, you judge it by the individual, you judge it by the fruits, not by the titles that we wear. And that’s the right way to look at America.

Rick:

Okay, David, back to the audience for a question on American exceptionalism and history.

How Can You Get a Reliable View of History?

Unknown Speaker:

How am I supposed to get a reliable view of history?

Rick:

Well, the more we learn about some of the bad ways history is taught, or distorted ways, the more important it is for us to find good sources on history. Where do we go to learn the right view of history?

David:

Part of the problem we have with history is in the first three centuries of America, I don’t care what your philosophy was as an historian, you did not inject your philosophy into history. You simply reported the facts.

Rick:

Just told the story.

David:

You told the story. So, whether Unitarian, or evangelical, or an atheist, you recorded the facts. And if the facts said that, hey, they had a prayer service when they landed at Cape Henry in Virginia in 1606, you reported it. It didn’t matter what your belief was, that was a point of history. So, you’ll find that the first three centuries, what drove history was telling the truth, telling the full story.

Now, as we move into the 20th century, particularly the early part, you get all this progressive stuff going forward, you get people with their agendas, you get what’s called legal positivism going on, you have evolution applied to history, “Who cares what they did 200 years ago. All we care is who we are now.” You get all this and suddenly you get all these agendas coming through. If you want a good view of history, what you do is you go back and read old history books.

Old Versus New History Books

David:

I’ve kind of made it a point now–there’s a couple of– let me caveat what I’m about to say. I will read a modern history book only if I go to the back of the book and look at the bibliography and footnotes and see that they’re citing original sources. There’s a lot of books that were written in the 1960s that said the Founding Fathers were atheists, agnostics, deists, you go to the back of the book and they’re quoting a bunch of books from the 1960s, 1950s, 1940s.

Rick:

Not the 1700s.

David:

Not the 70s. The founding fathers were in the 1740s, 50s, 60s, etc.. If I want to know what the founders said, I don’t go to a bunch of professors who were writings in the 1960s, I’ll go to the founders in their writings in the 1760s.

Rick:

So, there are some good modern books, but look at the footnotes in the back–

David:

That’s right.

Rick:

–and see if it’s quoting stuff from the 1700s.

David:

That’s right. As a general rule, I’ll read virtually any book prior to 1900 and prior– certainly prior to 1880.

Rick:

Okay, now, most people would say, “But where do I go to get a book that is that old?”

David:

Exactly.

Rick:

How do I get one that’s–

Some Reliable Sources

David:

There’s several things. The cool thing now is that online with things like Google books and other book services, a lot of those old books are up where you can read them online or you can just print them off in a stack of papers and read them for yourself.

Rick:

Yeah.

David:

For example, George Bancroft is called The Father of American History. George Bancroft is a great guy, he was a secretary of war, he started the Naval Academy, etc., but he did a 10 volume series on American history. He started in 1841, he finished the last volume in 1888, so it took him 50 years to get it all put together. It is loaded with documents, but he’s called the father of American history because of the way he compiled that history. Well, that that volume is purchasable today. They have reprinted that volume or you can read it online on Google Books.

There’s also a series of books by a guy named Charles Coffin. Charles Coffin was a popular public school writer in 8970s, 1880s, had a great series of textbooks that were used all over public schools. They’ve been reprinted or you can go read them online.

Rick:

So, that’s– those– it sounds like the kind of thing you could add to your library even if you don’t have kids at home still going to school.

David:

That’s right.

Rick:

But if you do, whether they’re going to public school, private school, or homeschool, that’s a great asset to put into their education.

David:

It’s a great asset. And another thing that’s out there is you now have so many of the Founders complete writings online. You can go online and search the writings of George Washington, you can search the writings of Thomas Jefferson. You don’t have to rely on what a professor tells you. Go read the writings for yourself and you can do word searches through it and it’s real easy to pull up.

Writings of the Founders

Rick:

And don’t you have– you’ve got some CD-ROMs where you can do that as well like Patrick Henry, and some of the major guys.

David:

Yeah. Exactly right. We’ve taken– great point because we’ve taken several the writings like of Patrick Henry, and of George Mason, and Charles Carroll, these famous Founding Fathers who signed our documents and we’ve just made them searchable CD-ROMs.

At WallBuilders.com, we have a section of links, we can go to historical links – Avalon Project, Yale University, they’re putting tons of original documents up.

Rick:

Yeah.

David:

What’s called “A Century of Lawmaking”, the Congress of the United States has put the first 100 years of documents of America up online where you can search them. What’s called Letters to the Delegates, that’s all the letters written back and forth by the Founding Fathers to each other during the American Revolution – it’s all searchable.

Rick:

This is great because it’s kind of like you were talking about earlier in the program how the Bible was off limits for a thousand years and only certain people got to read it. Same thing with the Founding Fathers.

David:

Yeah.

Rick:

It seemed like only the professors got it. Now it’s available to all of us.

David:

Now it’s available to everybody. So, that’s a good way to get American history. But the key is the more you go back to original sources, the more accurate it’s going to be. The further you get away from the actual event in your sources, the more likely it is to be infected with bad history and a bad view of America.

Is It Arrogant for Americans to Say We’re Exceptional?

Rick:

How about another question on American exceptionalism and how we teach history?

Unknown Speaker:

Isn’t it arrogant for Americans to say we’re exceptional? Aren’t all men are created equal?

Rick:

Well, is it arrogant to say we’ve had a system that has worked well and is exceptional?

David:

Well, let’s take that a different way. If I look at the Super Bowl champion, isn’t that arrogant to say that the Super Bowl champion is the best team in the NFL because you’ve got all these other teams? If I look at any sports setting and say, “Hey, this is the best team”, because they’ve got a record, no, that’s not arrogant.

Rick:

You’re stating facts–

David:

You’re stating the facts.

Rick:

You’re saying, “This is the result.”

David:

And when you look at America, and you look at the results, the stability, the prosperity, so many things – sorry, that’s what the facts dictate the conclusion is. This is an exceptional nation. There’s something different here. Nobody else is even close to stability, or prosperity, or anything else – that’s just the fact.

So, it is not arrogant to report the truth. Now, it’s arrogant to go around saying, “I’m better than you are.”

Rick:

Right. You don’t want to do it like my momma, “It’s not bragging if it’s true.” That’s not what we’re saying.

David:

That’s right.

The Other Thing About Exceptionalism

Rick:

What we’re saying is we’re just stating facts. We’re blessed of the Lord we’ve been given that system.

David:

And, see, that’s the right thing because there is no protection for America, but in our humble dependence on Him.

So, if it comes from an arrogance, you’ve got a problem.

Rick:

Yeah.

David:

If you’re reporting the facts and you’re saying, “Hey, we’re exceptional because God’s blessed us. It’s not because we are so great, but we’ve been able to take principles that He’s given us in the Bible, we’ve been able to apply that perhaps more than other nations have.”

But that’s the other thing about exceptionalism is God’s no respecter persons. So, any nation that will take His principles and apply His principles, they can become exceptional too.

Rick:

Now, that’s great because it’s not putting the emphasis on us. We’re not saying we’re exceptional, we’re saying these principles are exceptional and that’s what got us there.

David:

That’s right.

Rick:

You can do the same thing.

David:

And we are seeing, by the way, across the world in the last 10-15 years a lot of the emerging nations have said, “We want the same principles.” Literally, we have former eastern Soviet nations that have said, “We’re going to be a Christian nation. We’re literally going–” And that does go back to the fact that God treats everyone equally. He treats every individual the same.

So, within that, He treats every nation the same. Any nation that will honor Him, He’ll honor, 1 Samuel 2:30. Anyone that won’t honor Him, He’ll dishonor. It’s real simple. So, it’s not arrogant to say we’re exceptional, that’s reporting the fact. And it’s certainly not arrogant if we have the right attitude, and it’s certainly not arrogant if we can say, “You know, we want other nations to have the same freedoms, the same stability, same opportunities we’ve had. If they’ll apply those principles they’ll get them.

The Key to Saving Our Exceptionalism

Rick:

Time for one more question on today’s program.

Unknown Speaker:

America is great, but it seems to be slipping. How do we save our exceptionalism?

Rick:

So, we are an exceptional nation. You’ve made that argument today and proven it. We’ve been a great nation, had wonderful results–

David:

Yeah.

Rick:

–but seems like we’ve moved away from the principles that made us great.

David:

Oh yeah.

Rick:

Are we slipping? Can we get back?

David:

In the same way that we know we’re exceptional because of the statistics, we know that we’re slipping statistically. We know that economically, we know that in so many other areas as well.

But the good news is that if you’ll go back to doing what got you here you’ll get back to the same results. If you want to keep doing what’s taking you away you’ll go further away. Now, with American exceptionalism, when we understand that there is a specific set of ideas and philosophy that produced the institutions and policies that has resulted in the stability, and the prosperity, and the freedom, it all goes back to those ideas and philosophy.

Building on the American Heritage Series – The Truth of American Exceptionalism

David:

So, we go back and recover that, we say, “You know, there’s a certain set of ideas we have to follow, the five principles set forth in the Declaration have become fundamental in the way we think and examine government.” We can no longer examine government, say, “It’s based on my pocketbook, what’s going to be good for my pocketbook. I want to do it now.” No, you’ve got to go back to the fundamental principles that made us the nation we were. And if we apply those, and re-apply them, we’re going to be alright.

So, the key is go back and re-learn what made us the great nation, get rid of the deconstructionism, and post structuralism, that separates us, and criticizes us, and makes us think negative, go back to getting some good history, getting some good government philosophy the way it was originally designed, and then start protecting that.

Rick:

Well, that was David Barton and Rick Green on Building on the American Heritage Series The Truth of American Exceptionalism. You can get the entire series on our website, WallBuilders.com.

Hope you enjoyed today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live!