No lie! The Americans who wrote and ratified the Constitution had a worldview shared by no other people in the entire history of our species.
This “American Mind” (as intellectuals of their day called it) wasn’t a reasoned philosophy, or even a conscious idea.
It was an unconscious, gut feeling about how society properly works, based on the unique reality they experienced.
And this mindset was so pervasive, most Americans weren’t even aware of it.
GOLDFISH (equally unaware of the ubiquitous)
Whether they recognized it or not (okay, Jefferson and Franklin did, but they’d spent time outside the fishbowl), this “American Mind” explains a lot of what the Framers were trying to accomplish — the kind of government they expected to work.
Well then, how about this idea?
Nah, it doesn’t feel right, for some reason.
Stick figures in North America and Europe, divided by the huge ocean.
This may be important, because many Americans still view the world this way… and it’s still an unusual perspective!
Which is why Americans can be just as frustrated by European attitudes about stuff like free speech…
…as Europeans can be baffled by the American approach!
American soldiers straddling the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Understanding the uniqueness of this mindset can shed light on why American-style democracy doesn’t just happen in newly-liberated lands.
No matter how much we Americans try to make it happen.
Idea light bulb, and two figures arguing across a chasm.
But most importantly for our purposes, this “American Mind” is the heart of all the great ideas…
…the deep divisions…
…and all the sweeping social conflict that we call
Idyllic scene of fields and mountains, with a little worn footpath beside a brook leading to a small lake
But if this American Mind is the exception, then perhaps we should describe the general rule.
So how about we begin with the real state of nature?