In 1839, John O’Sullivan wrote
The American people having derived their origin from many other nations, and the Declaration of National Independence being entirely based on the great principle of human equality, these facts demonstrate at once our disconnected position as regards any other nation; that we have, in reality, but little connection with the past history of any of them, and still less with all antiquity, its glories, or its crimes. On the contrary, our national birth was the beginning of a new history, the formation and progress of an untried political system, which separates us from the past and connects us with the future only; and so far as regards the entire development of the natural rights of man, in moral, political, and national life, we may confidently assume that our country is destined to be the great nation of futurity.
His revelation ended thusly
Who, then, can doubt that our country is destined to be the great nation of futurity?
(Emphasis original) This is a prescinct essay. No one can doubt that in one sense at least, O’Sullivan’s words have come to pass. In military terms, if none other, we truly are the great nation, police to the world, and so on. The UN Security Council has squeezed out any room for reasonable doubt of this.
And yet, the Manifest Destiny speech talks about having severed our connection with the crimes of antiquity. America was born into a new history, devoted to the natural rights of man. Of all the irony, our republic was the embodiment of European enlightenment and liberalism.
How, then, have we fallen so astray? When did we go from the “Beacon on the Hill” to a bully, ready if not eager to use nuclear weapons against weaker nations? When did we decide to cease being a shining example of democracy, and instead take up our place imitating Orwell’s 1984? Our leader has worked so hard at killing evil-doers that he has in the process become one.
What surer sign could there be of an empire, a Rome that’s lost its way, than a vice president who shoots an elderly man in the face, never visits him in hospital, and then receives an apology for it?