America as ill-founded

If America was not well founded, what then? Not that it is a bad country, or an unworthy object of loyalty, or that an American should not look upon its history as his own. A country has to be mostly good to exist at all, and if it has problems we owe it the concern we owe a family with problems.

What it means is that there is a serious flaw in the organization of its national life. Our first duty is to recognize the flaw, our second to do what we can about it. Recognizing a problem in the Founding does change our attitude toward the men and principles traditionally taken as authoritative in our national life. We can still view Washington, Jefferson, Madison and the others as admirable men who made a permanent contribution to American and world politics. We simply can’t view them and what they did as final authority. We must see their limitations.

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