02 July 2016

American Exceptionalism and Why Being Born Here is All the Qualification Needed for Citizenship

Donald Trump has pointed out that the US is one of just a few countries that allows anyone born here to be a citizen. He thinks this is a bad idea.

In fact, this simple criteria gets to the heart of American exceptionalism. We're not an exceptional country because we - as people - are unique or different. Americans come from every continent, race, and religious background. We are exceptional because we believe that the right systems make people better.

By 2000, average income was about 6 to 8X what it was in 1900. And even this understates things. In 2000 there were a wide variety of wondrous things - from polio vaccines to airplane tickets - that you could buy that didn't exist 100 years earlier. This is not because the DNA of people in 2000 had miraculously changed or improved. It wasn't because people in 2000 were working harder or were more conscientious. It was because our systems were better. Drinkable water was available out of the tap. 14 year olds learned math.Children got vaccines. A host of social and technological inventions made life - and people - better.

In the US, we believe that the right systems can make anyone better, regardless of their gender or race. It's not the evolution of genes that make life better now; it's the evolution of memes, the social norms, practices, beliefs, and institutions that define our daily life.

It's our belief that all men are created equal and that they are made different by the memes they are taught and create.

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