Friday, October 29, 2010


Joy Hakim in her historical series "A History of Us," has some pretty good descriptions of the past, particularly as she describes Americans as Pragmatic. The best example she gives is in book eight of the seires, "An Age of Extremes: 1880 to 1917, is where she describes Ben Franklin as the pragmatist.

Pragmatism means being practical minded. Or, as she words it:
Pragmatic people don't worry much about theories. They just see what works and stick with that. We Americans are known as pragmatic people. We inherited that trait from a Founding Father. Can you guess who?

Well, it was Ben Franklin. He was a pragmatist. Ben looked at the world and used his practical mind to try to make it a better place. The first half of his life he worked hard at his business -- printing -- and became successful and wealthy. Then he retired, at 42, and devoted the rest of his life to science and invention and his country. He made himself useful.

She continued to describe the 19th century as being full of pragmatic people. Some people were like franklin, practical people who were also altruistic. While others were more selfish. Yet they took what was available to them, wisdom and stuff, and they made something of it using common sense.

And in either sense, America was all the better for it. We had many inventions come of this. We had railroads, factories, assembly lines, cars replacing horse and buggy, paved roads, faster production, oil tycoons, larger newspapers.

It all started with practical Thomas Jefferson and George Washington along with Ben Franklin. These were Americans who we could look back upon with pride.

As Hakiim writes, "Those leaders had been practical and responsible, pragmatic and idealistic. Their example meant that every time someone got greedy and mean-spirited, a voice from the past spoke out. It was a national conscience. It said things like: Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise." Or, "A penny saved is a penny earned." Or, There never was a good knife made of bad steel."

In the past decade we have seen our leaders make decisions for this country that are not practical. They have made decisions that are not based on what has succeeded in the past, but on what has failed. And as a result we have lost confidence in our country. Poll after poll shows this.

This is why we are at a crossroads in this nation. We need to vote for practical people to run our nation, people who will look at the wisdom of our practical Founding Fathers like Ben Franklin to make the right decisions for our future.

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