Robert J. Samuelson: American exceptionalism still alive, sort of

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  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Sept. 26, 2013 7:50 p.m.

    @Big D.... yes, did read the article.... and I know what the dictionary definition is. But like most things, I know also what a few groups have done to that definition in order to promote their own self interest. I travel the globe regularly, and see American exceptionalism in action daily.... and where it has done amazing things in promoting human dignity and rights, and where it has been used as justification for some very bad behavior.

    Lets not leave manifest destiny out of the discussion as well... because the two are welded together. These two terms are what drove American expansion... and the self declared rights to lands.

    But that is another discussion for another day.

  • Owl Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 7:58 p.m.

    As the US is great in its actions, we will not need to announce that we are great. Neither will we demean ourselves by denying it.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Sept. 24, 2013 3:09 p.m.

    American exceptionalism is a catch phrase that is glibly invoked by speakers as a patriotic crowd rouser. But among the many ways in which it has been defined is the controversial concept that America has a divinely ordained destiny to bring democracy and freedom to the entire world. That’s what makes it such a loaded term.

    The reason it’s a hot topic of the moment is because President Obama made the mistake of using that ill-advised expression in his TV address last week, after which Russian President Putin immediately pounced on it in his New York Times op-ed piece.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    Sept. 24, 2013 2:15 p.m.

    Q: Who did God destroy in the Book of Mormon?

    A: those who became proud and felt exceptional.

  • Big 'D' San Mateo, CA
    Sept. 24, 2013 1:09 p.m.

    Did anyone besides happy2bhere even read the article?
    You really missed true meaning of what is exceptional about America. Pride? Self-congratulatory? Wow. It's not that our people are better than other people, or that our national interests are more valid than other nations' interests. It is simply our founding ideals that are 'exceptional'. These do not promote America itself or its people, but rather promote the value of every human being on the planet to enjoy their innate individual freedoms instead of life being dictated by a monarch. America was founded on that premise, which is what makes it exceptional (unique). Overall, tremendous prosperity and progress has been the result of people being free to pursue happiness.
    Have we been a perfect nation? No. Are our exceptional (unique) ideals eroding? Yes. We have to own our mistakes, since we get the leaders we elect. But I'd rather make mistakes as a society than have them forced on me by a dictator. Onward and upward! Our social progress is gradual, and it advances only as rapidly as we are able to embrace. But it's in the right direction. And by our choice!

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 12:11 p.m.

    I think a lot of you fail to understand what "exceptional" was meant to convey in the first place. It was not that the people of America were better than other people. It was that our country was the first to found itself with the values that allowed the people of America to prosper and individuly achieve in ways that other governmental systems had never tried. What followed was the exceptional human achievement that brought America to the place it is today. That only about 6% of the worlds people could create so much human progress that has benefited all the world is what makes America exceptional.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Sept. 24, 2013 10:33 a.m.

    Other nations may see America as exceptional and many do. But when America touts itself as exceptional, it sounds like nationalism to the rest of the world. American leadership is at its best when the U.S. treats other nations as equal partners.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 10:09 a.m.

    I do think that "American exceptionalism" is typically self congratulatory and exaggerated. Many say "we are the greatest nation", not the greatest known, but "which ever existed" although history has a deficit of information.

    The freedom of the USA toted by flattering politicians today is almost delusional. The founders' vision is not altogether gone but the reality has receded, IS receding, and if things are not turned around, will recede into nothing.

    I question Mr Samuelson's historical knowledge or interpretation. Slavery is not examined; Britain, of "limited" political rights in Mr Samuelson's history, was abolished throughout the entire British empire before a sanguinary and miserable civil war extirpated it here.

    Its "monarchy" was and is a misnomer; Britain tended to exert, from time to time, its authority over even some of its earlier kings, John forced to sign the great charter of English liberties, the first Charles condemned to death by Parliament, James II compelled to leave the country, and George III slapped around and strait-jacketed by doctors.

    I prefer the Constitution as the best and most comprehensive document penned by mankind, but the document must be read and followed.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Sept. 24, 2013 9:14 a.m.

    "....Americans distrust government, but the Founders' preference for limited government is gone."

    That view is promoted by some but it’s a myth. The relative size and scope of government reflects growth and change over time, not abandonment of Constitutional government.

    What the Founders meant by limited government had less to do with size and functions than a process in which the powers of government are delineated as they are in the Constitution which provides for legislation by elected representative and judicial review. We argue over the proper role of government but after over two centuries, we remain a nation of laws. That is the essence of limited government.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 8:32 a.m.

    Time has also not been kind to hubris. Exceptionalism is best expressed as action, not word.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Sept. 24, 2013 8:20 a.m.

    American exceptionalism = "pride" in my book. And we all know what happens with the pride cycle.

    The notion that people are superior to others because they were born inside of some man made borders, that God shines his provence and rains his blessing in more abundance upon these people, just makes no sense to me. As I sit working in Canada this morning, I find it hard to believe that somehow God loves and blesses these people less because their ancestors moved north of some parallel line than man decided is a border between blessed and unblessed.

    What we inharrited was a blank slate, minus the thousands of years of wars and history that held europe and asia back. That blessing came at the expense of another people who already lived here. We do have a responsibility to make sure future generations enjoy the "blessings" we have. We also have a like responsibility to see that our other brothers and sisters living throughout the world also get to realize these blessing.

    We are exceptional in the stewardship we have - and if we live up to that stewardship - yes we may be exceptionally blessed, but not because of geography.