Monday, February 20, 2012

Question: Greatest and Worst American Moments

In honor of President’s day, let’s do a discussion question. America has been around for quite some time now. Some of our history is good, some has been bad. We’ve shined and we’ve stumbled (** cough cough Carter years **). What do you think were America’s five greatest moments and our five worst moments? And why? Also, be specific, don’t just tell me “the election of Obama.”

66 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

Best:

1) Lincoln making certain Grant would give magnanimous surrender terms to the south.

2) Washington at Valley Forge - what one can endure for freedom.

3) Emmancipation proclamation

4) Reagan -" tear down your wall" and then making it happen.

5) The country rallying around Bush in the rubble of the towers.

Worst:

1) failure to abolish slavery earlier (and peacefully)

2) treatment of Japanese after Pearl Harbor

3) the national malaise speech of Jimmy Carter.

4) FDR's re-writing the constitution.

5) passing of Affordable Healthcare Act as a prelude to government takeover.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, That's a truly solid list! Excellent choices all around! :)

DUQ said...

Yeah, I have to hand it to Jed! Great list!

DUQ said...

Excluding Jed's list, I would say:

Best:

1. Winning World War II
2. Signing the Constitution and the Declaration of Independent
3. Putting a man on the moon
4. Inventing the internet


Worst:

1. Vietnam, top to bottom
2. the trail of tears
3. the Supreme Court deciding our law isn't color blind and saying you can take race into account

More to come.

Tennessee Jed said...

Love the trail of tears inclusion, DUQ

CrisD said...

To Jed's list:
Worst:
1)prohibition
2)Fed income tax (1913)

Best:
1)WW2 Victory
2)Limit President to 2 terms (22nd amendment)

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, Excellent list as well. I like the Moon Landing! Woo hoo! We should go back. :)

AndrewPrice said...

Cris, How could I not think of the income tax!!!! Excellent addition!

Agreed on prohibition -- not a good policy, and caused us problems for generations.


Good point on the term limits too, that was one of our wiser moments.

Doc Whoa said...

I wonder how we rank something like Hollywood? On the one hand, it's been a strong embassador for America and American values. But on the other hand, it seems to hate us know and spends it's time disparaging America?

AndrewPrice said...

That's a really good question Doc. On the one hand, Hollywood is like one of the great wonders of the world. But it really hasn't been a friend to America in the past couple decades. I guess it goes on both lists?

DUQ said...

Thanks Jed! It seemed like a natural fit.

BevfromNYC said...

Add to all of the above
Worst:
1. Passing the Social Security Act without a sunset clause.
2. Passing ANY entitlements without a sunset clause.
3. Allowing the UN to be built in the US.
4. Allowing Barack Obama to be elected.

Best:
1. Marshall Plan
2. The arguments leading up to the signing of our Constitution.
3. Someone being elected our second through 44th Presidents so far. (Okay, 43rd, the 44th was a huge mistake. Have I mentioned that?)

Ron Paul said...

Bad:

1. Leaving the gold standard!
2. Leaving the gold standard!
3. Leaving the gold standard!
4. Leaving the gold standard!
5. Going to war with anyone!

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Excellent additions, especially the point about the peaceful transfer of power. That seems so simple and obvious today, but it really was a world changer.

Great point with the Marshall Plan too. We really are the first country to try to fix our former enemies rather than take them over. Though the history of the Marshall Plan could have been MUCH worse if Truman had listened to some of his advisors who wanted to basically destroy Germany and starve its people.

AndrewPrice said...

Somehow, I knew Ron Paul would make an appearance! LOL!

Doc Whoa said...

Andrew, That's how I look at Hollywood too. It's like a great wonder of the world which is squandering itself.

Kelly said...

I'm not sure how to add this, but:

Mark Twain
Edgar Allen Poe
Star Wars
Star Trek
Immigration which brought us so many great Americans!

I know they aren't up to things like the Constitution, but they are great American moments which will continue to influence the future forever.

AndrewPrice said...

Doc, That's a good way to look at it. In many ways, Hollywood would be a unique wonder because whereas the others were complete and could be admired or not, Hollywood isn't really a single object to be looked at. It's a like a factory which turns out culture. So it's status as great depends on what it produces.

In that regard, it's given us a ton of tremendous moments, so it belong on the Hall of Fame list. But it's not currently living up to it's potential.

Interesting thought.

AndrewPrice said...

Kelly, :)

Actually, I've wondered about this a good deal over the years. What is more important? Economics or culture? Or, said differently, should we consider going into business or becoming an artist a "better" pursuit?

On the one hand, economics determine how well people live in their daily lives. And if you found a successful business, you can do a lot of good in the world in terms of feeding and housing people. On the other hand, something like Star Trek will bring so much more joy to so many people than any product, with a few notable exceptions.

It's an interesting question, though I suspect there is no answer.

LawHawkRFD said...

Best:
1. The shot heard round the world.
2. The Declaration.
3. Washington crossing the Delaware.
4. The Constitution
5. America's rise to head the West at the end of WW II.

Worst:
1. Arnold's betrayal at West Point.
2. Slavery, from beginning to end.
3. The Civil War, tempered though by Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural Address.
4. The conversion of a free society into a nanny state, largely accomplished during the FDR years, but also carried on thereafter by every President except Reagan.
5. The election of Barack Obama (and I stick by that one).

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Excellent list. I can't blame you for picking the election of Obama. What a disaster. He's come as close as any president I can think of to destroying the country.

Good point about Reagan being the only exception too. How can we go so wrong with both Democrats and Republicans? Our system is in deep trouble right now.

CrisD said...

LawHawk-
I like your list.

Worst list #4 and #5, you betcha!

Doc Whoa said...

There's one I have to mention which always bothered me because I felt people were overreacting: the Challenger.

Yes, it's stinks that people died, but space exploration is a risky thing and there was no reason to almost shut down NASA after that. People needed to get a grip. When you take risks, sometimes the risks turn out poorly. That's no reason to stop taking risks.

I fear we've been slowly becoming a country of people who aren't willing to take risks and that would be so destructive of the American spirit. Look at the list above and you see nothing but risk taking. You can never succeed if you're afraid to try something.

T-Rav said...

Best:

1. Storming the Normandy beaches on D-Day.
2. Washington crossing the Delaware.
3. The Constitutional Convention.
4. The North's refusal to go all vengeance mode on the South after Lincoln's assassination.
5. Standing up to Stalin with the Berlin Airlift.

Worst:

1. The Watergate brouhaha.
2. Abandoning South Vietnam to its fate.
3. Massacre of the Sioux at Wounded Knee.
4. Roe vs. Wade.
5. Lyndon Johnson's Great Society.

Hippies said...

Worst:

1. Faking the moon landing.
2. .....

Dude, where's my stash?

AndrewPrice said...

Dear Hippies, They faked the Mars landing, not the moon landing. Go watch Total Recall, that explains it all. ;)

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Excellent list! I can't disagree with anything on the list. I especially like the addition of the Berlin Airlift. That was back before the Democrats got all weak on the issue of aggression. You can bet that if the same thing happened today, they would send a strongly worded letter to the Russians and then blame the Berliners for starting it.

What amazes me about Vietnam is not just the pull out, but that we ignored the South after that. Rather than get them on their feet, we basically made them dependent and then walked away.

It's sad but true that in much of our past history (pre-and post- Reagan) you were better off as one of our enemies than as one of our friends.

P.S. Speaking of the American West, I have to give a shout out to the transcontinental railroad! :)

AndrewPrice said...

Cris, Ironically, despite the damage FDR and LBJ did to our country and continue to do to our country, so many on the left worship those programs. Unbelievable.

AndrewPrice said...

Doc, Sadly, we have become a nation afraid of taking risk. You see it everywhere. And that is hurting us.

Although, I will say that while "the establishment" of America is afraid of taking risks, average people aren't and you see that with the incredible amount of innovation in this country. The problem, however, is that average people are increasingly cut off from the rest of society by the sclerotic triad that is Big Business, Big Government and Big Labor: "if you can't beat 'em, regulate them to death."

Typical Liberal said...

Worst:
1. George Bush
2. George Bush
3. George Bush faking 9/11
4. American Imperialism
5. Fox News
6. George Bush
7. Greedy Capitalism
8. Making people get "jobs" and "work" for "money".
9. Skool
10. Oh, and George Bush


Best:
1. Barack Obama 2008
2. Barack Obama 2012
3. Anything that Barack Obama does!

AndrewPrice said...

LOL! Nice Typical Liberal. Very accurate too. I don't know if you know this, but George Bush actually gave Hitler the idea of going into politics... and he invented plague. The man is a menace. :(

Also, let's not forget to put Michelle Obama on the plus list because she inspires all of us. Oh yeah.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, does this mean you've come around on Hell on Wheels? ;-)

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Not for a moment. Grrr.

That's a great topic, great time period, great moment for America.... ruined by an a-hole extremist race-baiting liberal writer. In fact, I'm surprised they don't dedicate each episode to Al Sharpton. So I stopped watching and I won't go back.

Ditto on Walking Dead. I'm done with that one too.

Individualist said...

Best Pop Culture Items

1) Ben Franklin scoring with the noble Ladies in Paris
2) The Whiskey Rebellion people moving to the hills of Tennesse and Kentucky and inventing moonshine
3) The invention of Jazz and Blues music
4) Hollywood making movies starting in 1900's.
5)Elvis moving his hips on stage and inauguarating the start of the Rock and Roll Era

Five Worst Items
1) The final destruction Hollywood's ability to make movies at or around the 1990's due tio marxist influences.
2) OJ Simpson (both trials)
3) Janet Jackson flashing the nation at the Superbowl
4) The introduction of the term "for Shwizzle" into the cultural lexicon marking the end of the coolness of african american music that was earned through JAzz, Blues, Motwon and early Hip Hop.
5) The election of Al Franken to public office

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, That's an eclectic mix for sure!

So you're calling the death of music with "for schwizzle'? That could be. There certainly hasn't been anything to prove you wrong since then.

I like how you reach back to add Ben Franklin to the list as the first American "playa"! :)

Individualist said...

Andrew

To use the colloquial vernacular of the today.....

Ol' Ben Franklin really knew how to Represent!

AndrewPrice said...

Well played sir, well played! :)

The Walking Dead said...

Oh, pleeaaassee come back! We've cut down our boring, pointless conversations from 50 minutes to only 45! And we're now killing an average of 2.5 zombies per episode! Oh pleeaaasssseeee....

TheDrivingAndrew said...

Tempting as that may sound, I think I'll pass. Plus, I suspect you're counting the commercials in the "exciting" part of the equation.

AndrewPrice said...

Wait a minute, there's no debate this week. This one was canceled?! I think somebody's lying to me.

CrisD said...

Andrew-
are you going to submit your 5's or collate your opinion of "5 best ofs"

ScottDS said...

As far as best moments, most of mine have been taken, so I'm just throwing these out there:

1. Our space program
2. Our founding documents
3. The freaking Internet!
4. Blue jeans
5. Lest I sound like some kind of cultural imperialist, I will say our pop culture. Yes, much of it sucks but the cream has a habit of rising to the top: everything from Disney and Coca-Cola to John Wayne and Star Trek. :-)

Come to think of it, while I'm not as well-versed in our history as I'd like (sad but true), most of my worst moments have been covered as well: slavery, Prohibition, etc.

AndrewPrice said...

Cris, Good point! I honestly forgot. :( Sorry about that!

Best:

1. The signing of The Declaration of Independence

2. The ending of slavery.

3. The rebuilding of Germany and Japan after WWII, and pushing to dismantle colonial empires.

4. The moon landing/internet

5. Opening the doors to immigrants/Ellis Island

I think those are the moments that made this country what it is and have created the American spirit.


Worst:

1. LBJ's Great Society, which has ruined millions of lives, squandered trillions of dollars, and destroyed much of our freedom

2. The failure to abolish slavery without going to war, and then failing to end segregation for another 100 years

3. Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats politicizing 9-11 beginning on 9-12 and creating a hateful political environment

4. Forcing Indians off their land

5. Abandoning South Vietnam when the North invaded


I think those are the moments where we truly failed to measure up to what America stands for, and which have put a few dents in the shining city on the hill. Number 1 and 3 in particular have gone a long way to putting us on a path that may yet destroy the country.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Blue jeans! LOL! Those were the symbol of America for years overseas. People actually smuggled them into places like East Germany!

Nice list.

AndrewPrice said...

By the way, let me make one more point.

If you compare out lists to the lists of other countries, you will really see a huge difference. None has achieved what America has achieved... not even close.

ScottDS said...

On second thought, it looks more like a list of "inventions." :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Inventions change the world.

Without fire, we would all be very cold and hungry.

Without the wheel, we wouldn't have Wheel of Fortune.

Without electricity, there would be no internet.

Every significant invention changed the course of the human race, and so many of the big ones have come from America or been applied usefully by America first.

CrisD said...

Andrew-
Nice list. I think the immigration's (which brought a lot of my family here) is important.

Scott-
Jeans!! You are funny! It's the American uniform, is it not? :)

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Cris! I do too. Immigration brought a lot of really motivated, patriotic people to this country who built all of its institutions.

Moreover, immigration helped shape our culture. There's nowhere else in the world that takes the best other cultures have to offer and then "Americanizes" them so everybody can enjoy them.... and then exports them back!

We're like a processing center for "the human culture." :)

Ed said...

Excellent lists by everyone. Great point too that the list for America is very different from the lists for other countries.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I think the March 1st debate was cancelled because everyone dropped out. The Wednesday debate should still be on.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Yes indeed, there appears to be a debate on Wednesday.

Arg.

This throws off my whole schedule for the week.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, It absolutely is. If you think about a country like Russia, they don't have a lot of pluses, but they sure have a lot of negatives. Even Britain doesn't have the kind of list we do.

Patriot said...

Best:
1. The airplane
2. Movies
3. The Constitution
4. Muscle cars
5. Moon landing

Worst:
1. Cigarettes
2. Income tax
3. Speed traps
4. Welfare
5. Carter caving to Iranian Islamists (and the way we treated the Shah)

AndrewPrice said...

Patriot, Hear hear on speed traps!

Muscle cars, good call!

tryanmax said...

Busy afternoon, so I’m late to the party. I’ve made a point of not reading any of the comments, so I’ll be more conversational in a few.

Best
1. Adoption of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is added (technically two events, but who’s counting? Oh yeah, we are).
2. Marbury v. Madison (1803) SCOUTS first exercises the power to overturn unconstitutional Acts of Congress.
3. The Second Great Awakening and the abolition movement.
4. Reaganomics and the Brandenburg Gate speech.
5. The early civil rights movement.

Worst
1. The New Deal, the Great Society, and the Affordable Care Act (technically…yeah, already said that.).
2. Adoption of the 17th Amendment, direct election of Senators by popular vote.
3. The series of political compromises that led to the Civil War and the abuses of Reconstruction afterward.
4. The forced migration of Native American tribes to the West known as the “Trail of Tears”
5. The ongoing civil rights movement.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Excellent list. Looking forward to seeing your additional comments.

tryanmax said...

Very impressive lists from everyone and hard to argue with any of them. Just as an observation, I think we can look at the Pacific Railroad Act and NASA--also the Federal-Aid Highway Act and the Homestead Act--as examples of gov't programs gone right. Though arguments could be made against these programs as ostensibly government overreach, the end result of each is greater freedom for the American people.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That's actually a great point. Too often, regulation/government is maligned, but the truth is that regulation is good when it increases freedom or makes more freedom possible.

That's where the strict libertarian case falls down and where they would retard society because they would eliminate things the government does which make other things possible.

A good example of this is handing out IP address, which makes the internet possible.

Unfortunately, liberals don't use this formulation. Instead, they support regulation when it "helps people." And the "people" is whoever is complaining. Thus, liberalism creates a massive overreach because it applies the wrong equation from the get go and it looks only to one side of the equation.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, the philosophy of our government is to enhance freedom, so that should be the litmus test of all legislation. Unfortunately, that philosophy seems to be lost on most people. Libertarians would have a government so bound it could not move to defend freedom. Liberals would rob freedom from one to prop up another another until all liberties are winnowed away.

Government is a tricky business. Just as oxygen destroys all yet is necessary for life, so too is government the greatest threat to freedom and the only means of preserving it.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Well said. That exactly describes the purpose of our government and why the libertarians and the liberals get it so wrong so often.

T-Rav said...

Well, if we're going to talk cultural stuff, then I'm going with

1. Route 66
2. Everything about the '50s
3. The Colt .45
4. Yellowstone Park
5. Antebellum mansions

1. Hip-hop
2. Reality shows
3. The sexual revolution
4. Everything about the modern university
5. Hipsters

I trust I don't need to point out which one is which.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I agree, there is nothing better in America than Hip Hop and Reality TV! Oh, wait, that's the bad list. ;)

On Yellowstone, sure, it looks harmless. But that sucker's going to blow up one day and wipe out this country. Ugh.

BevfromNYC said...

T-Rav - Route 66 allowed the unwashed masses to travel unescorted about the country and you think that's a "good thing"?

And hey, if it weren't for the sexual revolution, I'd have had not revolution at all...oh, wait, that doesn't sound right...nevermind.

LL said...

Best and Worst always require some sort of revisionist view of the past because 'best' was sometimes practical at the time - but the law of unintended consequences came into the picture.

BEST and WORST?

1. The Atomic Bomb (Better the US got it first than somebody else)

2. Birth Control (freed women but has led to a situation where human life has been devalued)

3. The Information Revolution (instant access to everything)

AndrewPrice said...

LL, True. In hindsight, many things that seemed good/bad at the time didn't turn out as good or bad in the long run.

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