Winning essay: What makes America great
November 21, 2019
Commentary by Darrell Alexander
Theron Frame is a 15 year old sophomore at Naselle High School who was given the opportunity to enter the contest with 21 other entries. His hope is to make the wider world better in some way after he graduates while still keeping in touch with his family. He entered the essay contest because he felt that doing so would honor those who have worked tirelessly to protect our and others’ freedoms. He says that we are fortunate to live in a country that had such strong moral values in mind when it was created, and one with so many who would gladly give their lives to protect it. He thoroughly enjoyed writing the essay because it gave him the opportunity to connect with those brave men and women who sought to protect the lives and freedoms of people that they did not know, and would never meet. He wrote the following:
America has endured much in its short 200 year history. It fought for freedom, won it, and then went on to become one of the most powerful nations in the world. Though this is impressive, it could not have advanced so much if it wasn’t for the rules set by its forefathers. America has been made great by the inalienable rights granted to its people, which allow them to change it for the better.
The Freedom of Speech could be argued to be one of, if not the most important freedom granted in the constitution. It allows for citizens to express their ideas and beliefs without fear of prosecution, advancing social and political boundaries. As George Washington once said, “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” Without the freedom of speech, America would appear like many dictatorships, where criticism of the government and suggestion of controversial ideas are banned and punishable. The freedom of speech keeps America great because it is the most effective way to protect citizens' rights, and make it easier for them to pursue happiness.
The right to pursue happiness, as mentioned by the declaration of independence, indirectly keeps America’s laws and policies in line with public appeal, as well as providing its citizens a happy life. Citizens who are given the opportunity to live happily will attempt to do so whenever possible; this mentality encourages them to call out the negative parts of theirs and others’ lives, and take action to fix them. Eventually new policies will come in place to fix these problems, and even as new issues arise as society changes, new politicians will be elected to better deal with them.
The right to vote and freedom of election are a large part of what makes America great. It gives citizens direct influence on America’s politicians, laws and practices, and without it, much about America would be different. A government reflects its officials, and a country reflects its government. If the seats in a government cannot be changed or influenced by its people, the country it supports will begin to stagnate. Eventually, a country without democracy will act like a monarchy, prioritizing the support of the government and its officials rather than its citizens. As a democracy, America elects new officials periodically, not letting a single person or group control the country for very long. To leave the power to elect with the people allows new officials to be elected who can more accurately represent America and its citizens, letting new issues be addressed as culture and the wider world changes.
America was once nothing more than a colony in an empire, with no foreseeable future other than serving a distant king. It rebelled, fighting for its freedom and independence, its founders including inalienable rights into the constitution to ensure America would never become like the monarchy it escaped from. Looking at America now, you can see that they were successful; if it weren’t for the ideals and inalienable rights on which it was founded, America would be much different than it is today. Without the freedom of speech, many important issues could not be discussed and fixed; without the right to pursue happiness, there would not be a motivating factor to fix issues around America; and if it were not for the freedom of election, America could not adapt, limited by its leaders as the world around it changes. Much can be attributed to what caused America’s success and rise to become a world superpower; however nothing could have encouraged its growth more than the inalienable rights granted to its people.