It was encouraging that the voters in Scotland rejected the separation from the United Kingdom. Let’s hope they did it for mostly the right reasons. Self-determination is a noble concept, developed and championed by Woodrow Wilson in the Fourteen Points that became the organizing principle of the Treaty of Versailles, and it can be applied selectively, but it can often be overly idealistic and problematic in application. Think the Balkans. Think Quebec. Or, closer to home, think the American Civil War. It occurred to me after the Scottish vote that the American notion of a country founded on and dedicated to a proposition is a modern miracle and that we almost blew it with this conflict. As Lincoln said at Gettysburg, “Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived or so dedicated, can long endure…..”. This is American exceptionalism.
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