Elections are over, politicians continue to bicker, and Greece insists on furthering their already impressive implosion. These tiresome strains play on, and economic data continue decidedly in the plus column -- but barely. Economists and central bankers are scratching their heads as to why this recovery from recession is so very weak.
Reflecting on Thanksgiving may help. Trust is a vital part of any successful economy, and there have been many scientific studies that prove the point. Americans have endured an erosion of trust with Washington, Wall Street, Big Banks, and Big Business. This breakdown has been well earned by the aforementioned four.
Thanksgiving may help if it can bring to mind those seminal American values that are the foundation and bedrock of our country. Americans believe in hard work, self-reliance, and the ability to achieve dreams. A true recovery will take leadership -- yes. But it will also require that you and I remember, recite, and rededicate ourselves to these fundamental tenets of what General Brent Scowcroft calls "American Exceptionalism."
In my upcoming book, Restoring Our American Dream: The Best Investment, General Scowcroft honored me by writing the foreword. Here is a quotation:
America has a religion. It is noble and sacred and pure. It is carried in the hearts and souls of her citizens and is the pride and legacy of committed, self-reliant, and determined generation upon generation. America's Faith is one of possibility, hope, longing, yearning, hard work, and, in spite of intimidating, almost impossible odds, glorious triumph. America offers her fertile self-reliant loam for fabulous imaginings that grow into steps tenaciously taken and result in victories previously thought impossible. This faith is so pervasive that it is unwise to tell Americans they can't because the American heart will reflexively whisper back, "Oh, yes we can!" America is still the best place to achieve dreams. We have a growing population, educated work force, high productivity, strong property laws, and a desire to succeed, grow, and shine. I am grateful to my core to have been born and raised in this most amazing country and culture in the world. Though we face headwinds today, be certain that America will prevail, thrive, and shine. "Oh, yes we can!"
I am a believer in America's exceptionalism. We are a unique country because we're not ethnically or religiously pure. We're exceptional because we have pursued, much of the time, what I would call "homely virtues" -- that you shouldn't expect anything that doesn't come by hard work, that you can have a better life than your parents did if you work and learn and improve yourself. That's what we have always been taught in this country, in contrast to many other parts of the world where you expect to live just like your parents did and expect your children to live just as you did. In America, we have our place in life, but we also have the notion that we can all do better. We have hope and a yearning for democracy, but even more so -- like people all around the world -- we have a yearning for dignity. People want to be treated like human beings, with respect. They need to know that their rights are not being trampled on, their portion of the national wealth is not being stolen. The American way of life, I believe, should always offer a way to achieve the dignity that we long for.