Tiger Woods, arguably the greatest golfer ever to play the game, is a courageous man. He was the highest paid athlete in the world until marital issues cost him a few sponsors. But putting aside those issues, he’s also a pretty good model for America. (Seriously, put them aside for this discussion. This is a theoretical concept with Tiger Woods ‘the golfer’ not ‘the husband’ as my example.)
Shortly after having won The Masters by an astounding 12 strokes in 1997, he concluded his golf swing was flawed and opted to wipe the slate clean, start all over, and invent a better method to pound golf balls into the stratosphere. His intention: to be consistently better as opposed to occasionally dominant. We all know how this turned out, he subsequently won—a lot. It worked so well in fact, that he went on to renovate his swing two more times; each time requiring many months of hard work and countless hours at the range.
He could have settled for making minor tweaks to his swing like everyone else on tour, but he holds himself to a higher standard. You’ll note I said like everyone else on tour; had he decided not to reinvent his swing, that’s likely what he would have been—like everyone else on tour.
For someone who is on top of the world to recognize his own flaws, be honest with himself about them, and even though he was ranked #1, reinvent his sole source of income anyway, seemed like a huge risk that would end in career suicide. But now that he’s nipping at the records of Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead, the joke is on all of his naysayers. He’s atop the rankings again having won a third of the tournaments he’s played in this year; a record any other golfer only dreams of.
Tiger Woods is to golf what The United States is to all other countries—a dominant force. In a world where the PC Police, in order to be sensitive to the feelings of those on the losing side, have sports teams running out the clock with a commanding lead, Tiger Woods slaughtered his opponents by 12 strokes with no concern about how it would affect their egos. There should be no doubt he will do it again if he can.
Did the rest of the PGA tour quit, were their feelings hurt, did they all cry their eyeballs out and walk off the course, were their fragile psyches destroyed forever? Of course not. The rest of the tour simply started spending more time at the range and the gym, like Tiger, and now you see a playing field that has been unilaterally improved.
The rest of the tour came up to Tiger’s level instead of him dropping to theirs. Like it or not, Tiger changed the game by forcing players to work harder or find another way to make a living. Competition; the heart of sport and capitalism, improved golf immeasurably. What was once a sport for smokers, drinkers, and people more likely to be found eating a push-up than doing one, now is peppered with guys like Tiger who can bench over 300 lbs and twist themselves into a windsor knot doing it.
As a libertarian, I’ll also point out that while golf has rules officials to answer questions for the competitors, players self-impose their own penalties—they literally police themselves. When’s the last time you saw LeBron James call a foul on himself that the ref missed? As honorable sports go, golf is unequalled in my opinion, and it’s a classic example of the idea that free people usually do the right thing when they are governed less.
America could learn a lot from the example of Tiger. We are the world’s number one economy and military power. While others wish to quash American exceptionalism by giving our wealth away in foreign aid, I say we need to do the opposite and focus on being the best nation we can be and let other nations manage their own affairs. I’m not an isolationist; we should trade with any nation who wishes to do so honestly, and to some extent, protect allies who are attacked as we did with Europe during WW2 or Kuwait in 1991. But, “America: World Police” needs to hang up its badge and tell the U.N. we’re retired.
If America reverses course towards liberty and free markets and reduces the military to a size that keeps us safe without being the U.N.’s attack dog, we could easily grow our advantage over other nations while drastically reducing government spending and scope to pay down our debt. Not because we want to destroy other nations economically, but because we aspire to be as exceptional as we can be—period.
If other nations don’t like us being at the top of the food chain, then they can strive to be better or learn to deal with their inferiority. I’m personally OK with knowing I have no chance of beating Tiger at golf, other nations have no qualms knowing they’ll never compete with us too; so long as they strive to be as good as they can be, who cares? This whole notion that our exceptionalism makes us inherently bad is nonsense.
Countries comprised of intelligent beings will learn from our successes and elevate themselves just like the PGA Tour did after hurricane Tiger blew through. If they are countries mired in religious or socialist dogma fueling government oppression, like many eastern hemisphere nations, then their people will continue to live in poverty until they revolt; none of which is our business.
England was once a world superpower, yet a few centuries ago, we broke off and decided to do something novel. We established a government based on liberty and self-governance. Instead of choosing rulers, we elected people to do our bidding, and established a way to peaceably remove those people from power if desired. At the time, such a system of governance was unheard of; just as a golfer who benched 300 lbs, spent 40+ hours a week at the range and the gym, and educated himself on the physics of the golf swing was a few decades ago.
But now, centuries later, there are democracies and republics all over the world, including England, because the U.S.A. paved the way. We proved that through liberty, we could build a better nation, and much of the world has followed our example. Almost every free nation on Earth owes that freedom to the U.S.A. Some because we helped liberate them, but many because we simply inspired them by demonstrating liberty works.
Like Tiger, we shouldn’t be afraid to overhaul something that is inherently flawed. Our education system could be privatized. Our tax system could be converted to a consumption based tax. Instead of settling for a SSI system that’s going broke, giving people their money back and letting them invest privately could be implemented.
Such changes might be scary to some, but change is good when it’s change backed by good science or historical evidence. We cannot keep careening on the path to insolvency and expect to remain strong. Tiger Woods proved that overhauling a flawed system is better than putting lipstick on a pig. I understand that to some, a complete revamp of age-old programs is scary, but our fears should be directed at those who are unwilling to be honest about our flaws and lack the courage to fix them, not those who have their sleeves rolled up and are ready to go to work—like Tiger Woods.