John, I can understand why you say that, but I stck to what I said. The effect of McCain’s words is to reduce us to an idea with no significant culture. He sounded a similar note at the Al Smith dinner in 2005:
We are a nation of many races, many religious faiths, many points of origin. But our one shared faith is the belief that a nation conceived in an idea—in liberty—will prove stronger, more enduring and better than any nation ordered to exalt the few at the expense of the many or made from a common race or culture or to preserve traditions that have no greater attribute than longevity.
I think this is mistakem and also needlessly boastful. I do believe that we have vibrant traditions and a particular culture. Not long ago, we spoke in terms of a common culture and an American identity. The founders clearly believed that a cultural formation had to underlay the bold ideas of liberty that they were putting forth and also cautioned about how liberty could be lost. But now many cast culture and tradition aside as insignificant or irrelevant, and want to stress only the idea. But I believe that if we lose the culture, we will lose the idea also. Another thing is that no one who professes these notions ever really looks to see if the idea is actually being passed on to young people. If they really believed what they say, you would think they’d be more concerned.