Many of us share the belief that the United States is an exceptional nation; one that has succeeded past all others and is worthy of our pride. For those who may say otherwise, their words are betrayed by their actions, for here they remain when they could always go elsewhere. As political tension heightens and the gap between ideology widens between us, one must wonder if there’s any unifying element that can bring us back together. What was it, after all, that made this nation exceptional? What was the banner under which the people of the United States assembled to form the American identity?

I’ve heard it said before, many times, that “diversity” made this country great; as if diversity were a virtue in itself. And while this nation has always been a nation of immigrants, welcoming those of vastly different beliefs and traditions, it wasn’t the arbitrary quality of simply being dissimilar that contributed to our success as a world power nor the development of our national identity. At the time of our country’s ascension, no immigrant said to themselves, “Let’s leave our family, friends, and homeland to go somewhere diverse.” Rather, it was the core values our nation was founded upon that drew peoples of all ethnicity and creeds to share in this revolutionary enterprise: freedom, independence and self-reliance.

Nobody came to the United States seeking handouts; they came because this was a land of opportunity and self-determination. This was the unifying element that built this nation and fused its people. Here, a man could forge his own path and succeed or fail according to his own choices. His fate was not determined by political pandering and social castes.

But today, it seems that we have lost sight of our identity. And as we struggle to create a new one, we drift further from the values that once united us and made this nation the frontier of freedom. Every day, the opinion of a single bureaucrat, seated in a mansion over a thousand miles away, makes headlines and creates waves of social anxiety. One man, determining the fate of hundreds of millions. We are becoming the sort of nation that our ancestors originally fled from.

It’s high time to start questioning this trajectory. Progressive thinking has done wonders to advance our civil liberties and standard of living, but we must not let progressivism take on a mind of its own and seek itself as its own end. There is a place for conservativism, as well – as the balancing force to prevent the erosion of those values and virtues that form the foundation for progress. We must remember our founding; we must remember our American identity.

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This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.