There are core values that Americans have always embraced—and need to rediscover today. The challenge is to identify the values that bind us together—and then to promote those values in our civic life.
Freedom is one of those values. America’s founding document was the Declaration of Independence arguing that each person has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of his or her own happiness. This is the freedom that binds all Americans—a virtuous freedom that empowers each individual to worship, speak, assemble, engage in commerce and serve on their own terms.
Another core value is respect for faith. Our ancestors came to this continent to practice their faith and build a society open to faith. Ever since, faith and people of faith have played an indispensable role in America. We don’t have to worship in the same ways or on the same days to recognize this.
A third core value that’s essential to America’s success in the 21st century is the belief in American exceptionalism. Too many Americans either dismiss American exceptionalism or apologize for believing in it. The American people need to understand that it’s alright to believe that America is unique. And that means they need to appreciate America’s history—and reject the prophets of doom and decline.
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