Here’s a question: If America’s Constitution, Bill of Rights, system of government and free market economy are the best solutions humankind has ever conjured to govern itself, why has no other country closely replicated our systems and, correspondingly, our success?
By the way, theUnited States of America is indeed the most successful country in the world if success is measured by a combination of freedom, security, infrastructure, lack of hunger, limited government, (relatively) low taxes, education, standard of living, innovation and justice.
This is not to say America has no betters or rivals in any of these areas, but I’d argue you will find no other country with such an abundant combination of these qualities. We’re kind of like Nintendo’s Mario, with a solid combination of skills that have served us pretty well. Granted, you may find Luigis who can jump higher, or Princesses who can float longer, but there’s only one Mario. But I digress.
Back to the question: Why, when given the chance, has no other country closely replicated the American system? In the wake of the Arab Spring, this is a relevant topic as we wonder what kind of governments will rise out of the rubble of governments shaken off by these peoples. Will they be dominated by militaries? Dictators? Oligarchies? Will they be republics? Democracies? Theocracies? Extreme? Moderate?
What is it that allowed our “constitutional compound republic” (thank you, Utah Legislature!) to survive and thrive? What is it about our society and systems that, since our independence in 1776, have produced 235 years of peaceful transfer of power?
I don’t have a full understanding of the answers to these questions, but I have a few ideas. I think the Founding Fathers understood that human nature needs to be checked by the rule of law; thus, we are a nation of laws. They understood that power to govern must be granted by the people, who select representatives; thus, we are a republic. The Founders understood that power should be dispersed; thus, we have branches with checks and balances. They understood a free market system creates the soundest economic engine possible through the proper incentives, rewards and self-corrections.
These are not complicated ideas, and yet we are without rival or companionship. Unconvinced? Let me turn that around. Name a country that has, for the last 235 years, produced anything that comes close to the long-term level of freedom and success enjoyed in the United States. And while you’re at it, please share your insights into our first question: Why are we, as Mark Steyn has framed it, America Alone?