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Why I’m Proud to Be an American: And You Should Be Too

George Grombacher July 27, 2023

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Why I'm Proud to Be an American: And You Should Be Too

Are you proud to be an American? Should you be? Do we have anything to be proud of? 

George talks about current sentiment amongst young people, why it’s happening, and the right way forward. 


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George Grombacher

Episode Transcript

I am proud to be an American. And I think that you should be too. Are you proud to be an American? Are you just being when you say that you’re proud to be an American, doesn’t mean that you’re happy with everything that’s going on. Doesn’t mean that you’re in love with everything that’s going on. It’s true of everything. Your relationships, you don’t have to be thrilled with everything that your partner is doing all the time. But you’re still, you’re still you, you still love them. You’re still proud of them. It’s like your kids. It’s like my kids. I’m proud of my kids. Am I thrilled with everything that they do all the time? No. In fact, it’s amazing. The arc that we can go through on a daily basis between absolute elation and, and just deep love to borderline rage. And, and maybe, maybe that’s just me, but I have a sneaky suspicion for those of you who have kids, or have been around kids, that you understand what I’m saying. So I am proud to be an American. There are lots about our country, that I am not happy about. Those lot that I’m frustrated by, there’s a lot that we could do better. But I am proud to be an American, I believe in and the principles of the country. I believe that that the way that our country was founded on our structure, everything about it is the best way to do it. It’s the best way to do humanity. It’s the best way to do civilization. Could it be that I think that because it’s where I was born and where it’s in? It’s where I’ve lived my whole life? Maybe. But I don’t think so. I think that that the structure, that we were doing it, while flawed, in some ways, is the best way. So wanted to talk about that, and share some perspective and some thoughts. And I encourage you to do the same. Because I don’t know that we’ve thought it all the way through. Have you have Have you seen the veck Ramaswamy. He is a young man who is running for President of the United States, I had no idea who Vic was up until a couple of months ago. And now I can’t get enough of them. Same goes for RFK Jr, by the way, these are two people that are showing up on a lot of the podcasts that I listened to. So it’s been fascinating and really interesting, and frankly inspiring to be able to listen to these two individuals who I believe to be really intelligent, and well thought out and articulate. Sit down and talk for hours on end. Because it’s hard to hide in that environment. It’s hard to, it’s hard to it’s hard to sit down and do a one hour conversation and and to kind of hide, whereas it’s easy to hide on these short little sound bites or the short TV appearances or whatever. Anyway, if you’re not familiar with vec, I encourage you to check him out. He’s running as a Republican. And if you’re not familiar with RFK, Jr, Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr. He’s running to be the president or the Democrats nominee for president. So interesting, in a time where politics, I don’t think that there’s too many people who are thrilled by them. Some, some different ideas, some some fresh faces. So whatever. What’s important about that is this is I saw that Vivec posted that only 18% of 18 to 34 year olds said that they are proud to be an American. And I am not surprised by that. I’m saddened by that. Probably more so worried about it. I am concerned about it. Because again, I don’t know that this massive group of people have thought it all the way through. Have they thought of all the way through. And literally on the same day that I saw that little blurb or headline I think I saw it on Twitter or x whatever it’s called I was listening to the LEX Friedman podcast. And Lex is super smart person who has really, really long conversations. And I don’t listen to all of them because frankly, he talks a little too slow. And I could just speed it up, I guess that’s neither here nor there. He had on a gentleman named Mohamed El Kurd and they were talking about Palestine. So you talk about places on earth that have issues and problems. That’d be it right there, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, holy cow, my goodness, there’s a lot going on. And it was a fascinating conversation. most fascinating from my perspective, was that he said, Everyone, everyone, all over the world, should be able to vote in the United States elections. Like, wow, it was almost like an offhanded comment. But it just, it hit me. Like, what an amazing perspective at is. That’s one of the biggest things that we have as human beings is our perspective. And this is a perspective of somebody who is lives in Palestine. He is different than I am. his upbringing is very different than mine. We have had potentially completely different experiences, different lived experiences, we have different faiths, we have just everything about us very, very different. And he he’s advocating or thinking, or just said, everybody should be able to vote the United States election. Why do you think he said that? Well, I think he said that, because we have such a profound impact on the rest of the world. sometimes good, sometimes bad. We we lead culture, we lead innovation, we lead really everything. We are the world leader in the eyes of of of most. And for him to say that everybody should be able to vote because just how important what we’re doing is and how important who we are is I think that that’s evidence for for how much of how important our process is, and the way that our system is key know how many Americans voted for the president last time. Only half of registered voters or eligible voters rather, in the United States voted in the last presidential election. So you’ve got Muhammad over here saying everybody should be able to vote, and only half of Americans are voting. I think to make matters worse, local elections, the turnout is abysmal. It is abysmal. So if you’re unhappy with what’s going on in the United States, and with a lot of our policies and the way we’re doing things, people aren’t voting. So they are voicing their displeasure and their unhappiness by sitting on their hands and doing nothing. A very American of us are very people of us, maybe the last New York Mayor mayoral election. I just picked that because I figured, well, you know, that’s a big one. Only 23% of eligible voters voted in the last New York City mayoral election. So but I get it. Why are people turned off? Why are? Why are people apathetic about things? Only 18% of young people are voting. Only half or rather, only 80% of young people say that they’re proud to be American and the half of us voted for the last president. Only 23% of New Yorkers voted in the last election for mayor. We are turned off by the entire political apparatus. Which How could you not be like our current crop politicians are? What’s the right term? What is correct term fuckheads. A lot of them are fuckheads. That’s the right term for that. We’ve got major social issues that we’re grappling with

and that are shoved in our face with every opportunity. We have people really, really interested in the climate. And looking at that as an existential risk. Obviously, we’re coming out of COVID and lockdowns and the vaccine and we are engaged in wars all over the world. And certainly if I were outside the United States, I would not probably look too fondly on that I’m inside the United States. And I don’t look too fondly on the way that we’re interacting with the rest of the world. And injustice in this that the other thing. So there’s a lot of bad things happening. I don’t think that there’s any question about that. And we may find ourselves in a position where it’s time for us to really show cause I had this wonderful experience when I was a young man. When I was in college, I had the opportunity to be part of a fraternity, which may or may not shock anybody listen. And had a wonderful experience went to a small school. And our fraternity was very, very successful. From most every metric, sort of a model organization, and self governance. We had no alumni support, we were very young chapter. And so it was just us. And that looking back on it was really the big value was, we didn’t have the university, the college but in their head in on us, or telling us what we needed to be doing or should do or shouldn’t do, we didn’t have the alumni, because there weren’t very many, because we’re pretty young. And the National fraternity didn’t bother us because we were doing things the right way. So we got to own all of our successes and all of our failures. And it was really kind of an exercise in self governance, just what the whole idea of the United States is. So had a great experience as an undergraduate. And when I graduated, one of the first things I did was I went to my fraternities Alumni Association, because I moved to a new city, I didn’t know too many people. And I said, Hey, I’m happy to help out however I can. And when you make a declaration like that, within an association or a group, well, somebody’s going to call on you. So they asked me to become the chapter advisor to the fraternity of the chapter at Arizona State University. And I gladly accepted I was 22, or 20. I was 22 years old at the time. And I took over as chapter advisor and was shocked by what I uncovered. It was the opposite experience of what I had in college. It was massive codependency, just massive alumni involvement, massive University involvement. And that can be good. But in this case, it was bad. And the undergraduates were doing a really bad job, they were hazing, they were abusing substances, just everything was going wrong, they were in big trouble. And literally the week after I became advisor, the chapter got hit with all of those allegations about doing all the bad things. And the university swoops in the general fraternity swoops in and they were going to kick us off campus are just gonna say, You know what, that’s enough, you guys have done enough, you’re out. We foolishly or not, talked them into saying, hey, let’s see if we can’t fix this. And after putting plans together for how we were going to do that, the university and the Attorney General Attorney came back and said, Okay, you need to show cause as to why it is you should remain a chapter show cause. So that is, those are two powerful words, very powerful term, you need to show cause you need to show us why it is you should continue to exist as an organization. So, the good news is we did, we went through and got rid of many bad actors who were in it for the wrong reasons. And that’s a whole nother conversation of what the right reasons of being part of an undergraduate fraternity. And being a member of a fraternity as an alumni are, I’m not going to get into today, there are many. But you need to show cause as an organization and show us that you’re able to do things the right way that you’re able to play within the confines of these rules. There are rules that are laid down by the university, there are rules, regulations and structure that must be followed that is laid down by by the fraternity. And obviously there are laws which must be followed by cities and everything else. In within the confines of that. That’s where all the opportunity is. Playing in an ordered game demands that you know the rules rules of the game. And when you do that, you find that discipline equals freedom. When you do the things that you need to be doing, that allows you the freedom to do pretty much whatever you want. So, understanding that the structure itself, the thing itself, is not broken. More often than not, it’s the users, that that’s the problem. It’s the people. And in terms of the United States of America, the structure itself isn’t broken, the thing isn’t broken. It’s just how we’re doing certain parts of it. If you’re not happy with it, there are it’s not a function of, let’s get rid of everything. Let’s throw the baby out with the bathwater. It’s not that that is not the solution to the problem. It’s not let’s change everything. It’s not, let’s burn it down. And when you look and see at different the way that different governments all over the world are running things, I think that from my perspective, you’d say, Okay, well, the way that the United States is structured, founded, the founding documents, the principles of it, self governance of it, there are a lot of wonderful things that we must hold on to and protect. And I think that that’s one of the things and one of the reasons that you have people all over the world who are looking at us and saying, what are they going to do. And y’all better get your act together. Because you are the example for the rest of us is you think that certain ideas sound good. And maybe they do sound good. But they don’t play out, it doesn’t actually work the way that that it sounds like it’s going to. So there’s no better structure than ours. And, to degree, this is really what it is to be conservative versus progressive. Conservative says, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater, there are parts of this, we want to hold on and conserve, we recognize that things need to be changed. But the way forward is not to simply burn it all down. It is, let’s hold on to the good things, recognize and hold on to the good things that have made where we are today possible. That have made our way of life possible, that have made your way of life possible. And find out and figure out what changes we can make and tweaks within the structure. It’s not the things fault, that the people, the operators are operating poorly. It’s the people’s fault. It’s their responsibility. And it’s my responsibility to do something about it. So the way forward, this is not a game of perfect. It’s just isn’t. Thomas Sol famously said there are no solutions, there are only trade offs. We need to get our priorities figured out. Because I can’t do all of it. You and I have finite time, attention, energy money, we have finite resources. Therefore we must make the best decisions we can. And we make the best decisions we can by getting really clear on what is most important to us what our values are, what we believe to be true. And then making decisions as aligned as closely aligned to those as we possibly can. And that’s how we get closer to what we want versus further away. When we stop thinking about that we stop being considerate of what our priorities are, what is most important and be wise about that? Well, that’s when we get ourselves in trouble. That’s when we get ourselves in trouble. So that that there is

homelessness and drug abuse and and crime and all of our major cities. Well that’s not the fault of the United States of America. That’s not the fault of of New York City or of San Francisco. It’s the fault of the people who are operating these places. So for every problem that everything that you’re frustrated by all the problems that you see more More often than not, it’s not the actual structure itself. It’s how these it’s it’s it’s the operator. Alexander Solzhenitsyn has this wonderful quote that you’re probably familiar with. He says that the lines separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, cell line between good and evil thread between each of us. So to think that, we are going to create some kind of a utopian scenario, and things are going to be totally different the next time, and if we get rid of this current structure, or racket, burn it down, that what will replace it is going to be better, I think, is a horrible mistake. And I think, pretty foolish. Another one to consider is from John F. Kennedy said, Ask not what you you’re asked not what your country can do for you ask what you can do for your country. And I think that pretty much sums up what it is that I’m talking about. So it’s really, really easy to be a critic, it’s really, really easy to throw rocks, and a break a window. It’s really easy to start something on fire to destroy it. It’s really easy. Anybody can do it. I’ve got a three year old who breaks stuff all the time. Simply, efficiently. It’s really hard. To be a builder, it’s really hard to be a creator. It’s really hard to have built the United States of America. And to have become in a pretty short amount of time, the best place in the history of humanity, to be born and to live. Don’t believe me? Why are millions people trying to come here all the time? Is because it sucks as because it’s so terrible? No, it’s because of the promise of what America is and what it still is, and what it can continue to be. So not saying you’re doing this. We need we need to, I need to everybody needs to stop trying to burn everything down. Become a builder, become a creator, be part of the solution and not the problem. And how do you do that? Well, it’s pretty simple. Start with you. Start with yourself. Figure out how to become the highest and best version of you. Figure out what you need to be doing to become stronger, to realize your potential to figure out what your potential is. Do you know have you ever thought about what the highest and best version of you is? What does that person look like? This idealized version? If everything went right, if everything went differently? Who would you be? Have you ever thought about that? I think that you should, you ought to. Once you do that, once you figure out what you need to do, what your priorities are what matters most in those areas, and you’re doing it. Well then move on to the people that that are your loved ones, and move on to your neighbors. How can you be a better neighbor? How can you better support your neighborhood, do that, once you’ve done that, then you can move on to your community. Once you’ve addressed the needs there, you can move on to your city. Once you’ve crossed off everything that needs doing there, and then you can move on to your state. Figure that out. Figure out what needs to be done. Figure out how you can accept and take on responsibility. When you do these things, that’s when you take ownership. People support what they helped to create. The opposite is feeling disenfranchised, and feeling outside of the system outside of the thing. And that’s where people feel and start picking up rocks and throwing them. That’s where it stopped burning things down. It’s like a child having a temper tantrum. And essentially. So the solution, the way forward is through personal responsibility. If everybody accepted and took that on, think that a lot of these problems would, at least would solve themselves or slowly but surely kind of be taken care of. So start with yourself Think it through. Hopefully I’ve given you food for thought. Hopefully, I have put some ideas in your head or reminded you. People need to be reminded more than need to be instructed. You don’t need me to instruct you. Maybe you do need to remind you to check your perspective on these things. I know I need to constantly check my perspective, and I try really hard. Take a big step back. Say, what is my place in the world? What is our place in the world? How can I make this better? How can I make this different? What would it look like? And then accept responsibility that it does start with me and I need to do better. I need to work harder. Do your part doing your best

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