Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner is a congenital optimist. But when he looks at photos of his grandchildren, he sees them potentially burdened with debt they will pay off due to the fiscal mismanagement of the country’s current crop of leaders, and it makes him understand why so many people are dour.
Feulner says that with the uncertain business climate the country is in because of Obama and Democrats, the EPA’s overregulation, and government bureaucrats, such as those in the GSA who are “having a good old time on the taxpayer’s expense and nobody being held responsible,” he can understand why people can be a bit pessimistic right now.
To snap people out of their pessimism, Feulner, along with Brian Tracy, decided to write The American Spirit: Celebrating the Virtues and Values that Make Us Great to get the country “back to basics” and remind people of the fundamentals that make America the greatest country on earth.
Feulner told Breitbart News that while “it is pretty easy to get down in the dumps,” he wanted to write the book to send a message to “rise above” the pessimism and focus on “how much better America is than any place else and how we can all do better and pull ourselves all back up to our optimistic spirit.”
In the book, Feulner quotes the late Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: “There are times when we need education of the obvious more than the investigation of the obscure.” And that is what the book essentially is–a return to fundamentals that serves as a primer for anyone looking to restore their faith in the greatness of America and the American spirit.
Feulner said he and Tracy, whose reputation is one of America’s leading management gurus, “wanted to write a book about the fundamentals of freedom and patriotism and how Americans solve problems in pragmatic ways while still being idealistic.”
Feulner said there are so many aspects of the educational system that “leave a lot to be desired” and mentioned how much the education system has changed when graduating seniors cannot sing along with Lee Greenwood or recite the Pledge of Allegiance because it has the words “under God.”
“This is not what America is about,” Feulner said.
He wants his book to remind Americans that the “American spirit is a unique thing and there is such a thing as American exceptionalism.”
“We Americans have to be clear why we are the greatest country in the world,” Feulner said.
Second, Feulner said he wrote the book to remind Americans that “American exceptionalism is not guaranteed in perpetuity” and “every generation must proclaim it and internalize it.”
Feulner said every generation has to learn what makes American exceptional from “their parents and teachers” and know how they represent it and are a “a part of this incredibly great tradition of the last 235 years.”
“We want to remind people what we are and encourage them to take this book and other books to remind the next generation what makes America such an extraordinary place,” Feulner said.
As an example, Feulner cites conservative scholar Dinesh D’Souza who often has said “the thing that makes America such an exceptional place is that to be an American is to come in with a clean slate, and you can write anything on that slate,” unlike in nearly every other place in the world where “you will be in caste or class system” that prevents people from even dreaming about fulfilling their potential.
In a chapter on courage, the authors discuss the risks immigrants take to come to America and pioneers took in settling the American West. They talk about the importance of everyone being equal under the law and the rampant over-criminalization and over-regulation of some issues that make a mockery of the country’s laws and legal system.
They discuss how “freedom of religion is not freedom from religion” in a chapter on faith and discuss Whole Foods CEO John Mackey’s optimism in the face of early hardships in a chapter on optimism and entrepreneurs.
Feulner said it is “very distressing” to “think about whole generations growing up not learning about individual freedoms” and that rights come from God and not from a sovereign, which is what made the American experiment different from its inception and is at the heart of American exceptionalism.
As the the Fourth of July holiday nears, The American Spirit is a book that will renew people’s faith in the principles that has made America exceptional.