In his convention speech in Tampa last night, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie spoke of “a second American Century.”
“I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my children and grandchildren to have to read in a history book what it was like to live in an American Century,” the keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention said on stage.
“I want them to live in a second American Century,” Christie said. “A second American Century of strong economic growth where those who are willing to work hard will have good paying jobs to support their families and reach their dreams. A second American Century where real American exceptionalism is not a political punch line, but is evident to everyone in the world just by watching the way our government conducts its business and everyday Americans live their lives. A second American Century where our military is strong, our values are sure, our work ethic is unmatched and our Constitution remains a model for anyone in the world struggling for liberty.”
Let’s not quibble about the few centuries that have passed since the 18th Century, say in 1787, when the Constitutional Convention opened at the State House in Philadelphia, the same location where the Declaration of Independence had been signed 11 years earlier. Fifty-five delegates created a Constitution for a federal republic that would last into “remote futurity.”
Let’s skip past the 19th Century, and that doctrine articulated by President James Monroe in his seventh annual message to Congress on December 2, 1823: that European powers were obligated to respect the Western Hemisphere as the United States’ sphere of interest.
Let’s fast forward past the 20th Century and Republican Teddy Roosevelt, the president elected in 1901. He asserted a global responsibility and oversaw negotiations for the digging of the 48-mile Panama Canal, dug and built from 1904 to 1914 to bridge East and West with a swifter trade route. (Or Democrat Jimmy Carter, who was blamed for “giving it away” in 1977, or Republican John McCain, the 2008 presidential nominee born in the Canal Zone in 1936.)
In the 21st Century, it is Republican Mitt Romney calling for “an American Century.”
In 2012, Romney pledges a foreign policy that “will proceed with clarity and resolve. Our friends and allies will not have doubts about where we stand and what we will do to safeguard our interests and theirs. Neither will our rivals, competitors, and adversaries. The best ally world peace has ever known is a strong America. The “last best hope of earth” was what Abraham Lincoln called our country. Mitt Romney believes in fulfilling the promise of Lincoln’s words and will defend America abroad in word and in deed.”
Christie, for his part, is leapfrogging to the “second American century.”
That’s the one that starts in 2016.