Legal Quote of the Week: Can We Become a Serious Country Again?

An excerpt from Wilfred M. McClay's speech at the 18th annual Bradley Prizes ceremony on May 17, 2022:

We need to become a serious country again. And to do that, we need to believe in ourselves again, believe in the reason we have been placed here, as a land of hope for a world that needs hope more than ever. We need to understand that a world without America will be immeasurably diminished, both in material and spiritual terms, and that we have no choice but to live up to the responsibilities that come with our many blessings. Our history can, I believe, be an enormous resource in that endeavor.

The work will not be easy. There is no guarantee of success. But it will be much harder to live with ourselves, and with the rebuke of the future, should we shrink from the challenge. And once we understand what is at stake, we may feel a certain exhilaration that comes of knowing what our circumstances and our character are demanding of us.

McClay's City Journal article adapted from his speech is available here. And his must read book Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story (Encounter Books, 2019) is available here.

Writer and editor Tim Rice summed up his review of McClay's Land of Hope as follows:

“There is only one thing in life . . . that I must and will have before I die,” says Madeleine Lee, the socialite protagonist of Henry Adams’s 1880 novel Democracy. “I must know whether America is right or wrong.” To hear many historians today tell it, the American past offers a choice: you can love your country or you can learn its history—but not both. McClay rejects this dichotomy. He tells the tale of America in full, inviting readers to take up Lee’s question for themselves. Land of Hope proves that patriotism is not only compatible with a clear view of America’s past—it should proceed from it as well.