To truly understand what it means to be Capital A – American, you must start with what every American has in common regardless of their beliefs, color, national origin or any of the numerous dividing factors used in today’s divisive world. That one commonality is the very thing that brought America into existence, The Constitution and Bill of Rights. Whether you are natural born or naturalized, The Constitution is the sole thing every American has in common. It transcends party affiliation, the state you live in and even politics itself. As Americans we all benefit from the protections outlined in that document and the liberty that it was designed to protect. So a large part of what makes someone a Capital A – American is an understanding of the guiding document that defines and unites us as Americans. This has been our greatest failure as a nation over the last 100 years or so, not properly teaching new generations the intricacies of that document and the principles upon which our nation and national identity are based.
The Declaration of Independence laid the foundation by acknowledging the concept of natural rights, as well as identifying and enumerating abuses of those rights as grounds for our independence. Even with that Declaration this nation was still divided from the very beginning, much as it still is today, but certain principles and ideals overcame those divisions and created America. Those principles and ideals, simply put, were freedom/liberty, individual sovereignty and limited government with sharp divisions of power to thwart the rise of an all-powerful tyrant. Now there are those out there, who believe in big government, who will say I am completely off the mark. They do have some legitimate arguments, because some of the Founders and Framers of the Constitution believed we needed a powerful centralized government as well. That being said, they still cherished and protected their individual liberties. Whether it was the federalists vs. the anti-federalists, Whigs vs. Tories or any other variation since, including modern Republicans and Democrats, the argument has always been pretty much the same. That fundamental division is why the two party system has been so prevalent in American politics from the beginning. Invariably the debate boils down to more government control vs. more individual sovereignty. That simple. Minus all the distractions, misdirections, bells and whistles of course.
But what does all of this have to do with what it means to be “An American”, you ask? Well this sets the stage so to speak. It provides the backdrop for defining what is “An American”. Beyond the legal definition, An American is someone who chooses freedom or liberty over security. [Insert any of the numerous Founder’s quotes on this subject here] It is also evidenced by the prominence of the word “Liberty” on our currency and throughout official government places. Of course, being a strong 2nd Amendment advocate I believe that the “right to keep and bear arms” serves an important function in that regard. When you choose liberty over security, then you must accept responsibility for your own security, ie. arms. That has been a fundamental cornerstone of American culture from the start. Yes “American” IS a culture in and of itself. Some people point to E Pluribus Unum, the melting pot, from many, ONE as evidence that we are a “multicultural” nation, but that’s just not true. We are a nation of immigrants, but regardless of our origins there are certain principles that bind us all together as one people. Those principles are defined in The Constitution, such as religious freedom, freedom to assemble, freedom of speech, to be secure in your person, equal protection under the law and more. Those principles are what draws immigrants to America and they were all put in place to protect the rights of the individual against the will of the majority or the ambitions of people in power.
Set aside the fact that one of our political parties bears the name; this nation is a Constitutional Republic and republicanism has meaning well beyond a party label. This nation was founded as a Republic rather than a true Democracy for a reason. Republicanism better protects the individual than does a democracy. In a true democracy, the minority is subjugated by the will of the majority, often described as “mob rule”. A Republic is governed by representatives who each represent a relatively small constituency which gives each individual within that constituency more direct control than a true democracy would. Which brings us to the question I was asked about defining a III%er. III% is a reference to the 3% of American colonists who actively fought the American Revolution. They were the outspoken critics of the Crown, the Founders and Framers of the Constitution. A III%er by today’s standards is someone who lives the phrase “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance”. Someone who is engaged in the political process, seeking the truth behind the media propaganda, educating and motivating others in their patriotic civic duty. A III%er by today’s standards is someone who is a watchdog among the constituency , vigilant in regards to abuses of power and is both willing and prepared to defend this nation and its Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic. A III%er is a Capital A American, educated, engaged, motivated and prepared to do the heavy lifting for the protection and defense of their fellow citizens and the American way of life.
So, to answer the question, What does it mean to be “An American”? It means that you embrace and understand the Constitution that defines us. It means that, regardless of your view on the size of government, protection of individual freedoms is paramount in the debate. With individual freedom being such an overriding principle, being “An American” means taking personal responsibility for your life, your words, your actions and recognizing that we all share the same individual freedoms such as speech, religion, etc. This nation was created and the Constitutional Republic designed to govern a self-regulating population. “An American” does not need government oversight, because “An American” accepts their responsibility and acts accordingly. “In God We Trust”, also prominently displayed on our currency and in our 200 year old national anthem, is a testament to that self-regulation requirement of citizens. The Founders and Framers recognized that religion played an integral role in people’s ability to self-regulate, which is why freedom of religion is one of the main founding principles. That does NOT mean you must be religious to be “An American”, but you respect the role that religion plays in regulating societies and individuals. Of course that means that “An American” is also free to NOT practice, adhere or even believe in religion at all, but even a non-religious American respects that others have the right to live their lives according to their religious beliefs.
To be “An American”, in the deeper sense, is no easy task in this modern world. At the time of our founding most of the defining characteristics of “An American” were pretty commonplace and routine. Yet, even then the 3% who fought for our independence were only supported by about 1/3 of the population indirectly and behind the scenes. There was also another 1/3 of the population who opposed independence and preferred the security provided by the King. The remaining 1/3 were apathetic, uncommitted, indifferent and didn’t really care either way. Much the same breakdown still exists to this day. The only difference is that the apathetic portion of the population has grown. Today we have probably 20% at either end of the spectrum and the remaining 60% in the mushy middle are the apathetic and uninvolved, the fence-sitting, “moderate”, “independent”, “I can see both sides of the issue”, “I agree with X on this and Y on that”, “I don’t want to do any heavy lifting, but I want to have my cake and eat it, too” crowd.
Are you an apathetic little a – american? Anti-American, but legally american in name only? Or are YOU a Capital A – American?
Jon Britton aka DoubleTap is Chief Operating Officer of CDH, Inc., a regular contributing author and regularly involved in most aspects of their social media. “Writing was never a goal or even vaguely contemplated as a career choice, it just happened, an accidental discovery of a talent and a passion.” A passion that has taken him in many directions from explorations of the zombie subculture and zombie stories to political advocacy. Joining the U.S. Air Force right out of high school, Jon had the opportunity to experience many different parts of the world and different cultures. His post military career path, both white collar and blue collar, allowed him to work alongside both CEOs and average Joes. As a founding member Cold Dead Hands his study of human nature and writing ability found a purpose. His zombie roots provided a variety of issues from prepping to human behavior under crisis to firearms that he applies to his advocacy for gun rights. A ravenous appetite for the study of history combined with his current events political junkie addiction led to him writing an e-book Gun Sense: Past, Present and Future.