@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
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.
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.
Q: Who did God destroy in the Book of Mormon?A: those who became
proud and felt exceptional.
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!
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.
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
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
"....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.
Time has also not been kind to hubris. Exceptionalism is best expressed as
action, not word.
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.