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The Idea of America: Are the Principles Eroding or Enduring? Paperback – April 15, 2013
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About the Author
Bill Jamieson's career has included leadership positions in business, government, religion and education. He currently serves as president of the Micah Institute, a non-profit organization focused on prayer and prophetic action. Bill resides in Asheville, North Carolina.
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Jamieson has an agenda. He has written this book for his grandchildren as a legacy because they will assume responsibility for the future of America as a nation. Bill calls attention to the polarization and resultant paralysis of government to accomplish legislative goals that are intended for the people instead of those who seek to control government from the outside. He tells his grandchildren: "The best gift my generation can give you...is to rebel against entrenched ideologues." Quoting Thomas Jefferson, "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism" and "the most dangerous threat to the Republic is an uninformed populace."
Whatever the issue (economic, social, education, health, environment, infrastructure, income equality, or an understanding of science), it is important to recognize that the American Ideal is in decline when compared to our peers. And, Bill Jamieson is no stranger to political and social action. He writes from years of experience. He has an unabashed liberal stance, but is not strident about it. He writes about losing our "moral compass" as a country when we fail to understand and have compassion for those who have less. Quality education is also high on Jamieson's agenda. As a country, we fail to understand that we are not doing well educating our children when compared to other countries worldwide. We get what we pay for and we are not paying enough. Our educational system is not geared to thinking and expressing ourselves through writing, rather to passing the exams that supposedly measure educational success. As such, students are not invited into the world of ambiguity, taught instead to embrace certainty.
The single most unique aspect of the book is its emphasis on relating the interviews he has conducted with people at every level. They are very revealing about the America we thought we knew. His recreation of Steinbeck's Travels With Charlie, in a camper van with Amos, his four-legged companion, offers a refreshing view of the United States from within. This book could have probably been much longer, and included more interviews, but it achieves its purpose in calling attention to what we need to do as a country to resume our non-exceptionalist role as a leader on the world stage.
Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that the greatness of America as a young country was its ability to correct its faults. But that facet of what truly made us exceptional is threatened because you can't correct faults if you refuse to acknowledge their existence.
I am heartened by the continued hope that the rest of the world's people place in us based on Mr. Jamieson's interviews, and am renewed in my resolve to do what I can to return us to a path where our political life is based around arguments about how to best address the problems that face us instead of denial that those problems exist.
We are indeed at a crossroad, perhaps past it down a wrong road. We must turn around, repair the damage we've allowed to happen, and rechart the course to the right brand of exceptionalism.
The autor puts many question marks on what is evident for an American but not so evident for other nationalities.
The non-American has a great admiration for the ideals of the founding fathers but does not find these ideals any more in the daily politics (internal and external) politics of the USA.
Every American should read the book to become aware of the loss of many crucial ideals in the USA. He/she will also remember that everything, including the USA itself, is relative (in all the senses of that word).