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Old September 24th, 2011 #1
Mike Parker
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Default American Exceptionalism: the Neocon-Evangelical Nexus

I take exception to 'American exceptionalism'

Published: Wednesday, March 09, 2011
By Paul Mulshine/The Star Ledger

Is there a guy deep in some office inside Washington who hands out little slips of paper on which are written the new Beltway buzzwords?

If so, he’s to blame for the sudden explosion of references to "American exceptionalism."

When I attended the Conservative Political Action Conference in D.C. last month, I watched as almost every potential contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination invoked that term.

Do an internet news search on the term and you’ll get hundreds of hits. Most will include some observation by a politician or pundit to the effect that, because we Americans are so exceptional, it falls upon us to sort out the mess in the Mideast.

This is nonsense. The other day, I did a survey of the various people of my acquaintance who have experience in that part of the world. I asked if anyone could think of a single thing our government has done in the Mideast over the past couple decades that advanced our national interest. They couldn’t. Neither can I. It’s been one bonehead move after another.

So just what is this fabled exceptionalism an exception to?

Common sense, it seems. Most politicians assume the term was coined by a Founding Father or some other traditional figure. In fact, it was coined by a communist. In 1927, a leader of the American Communist Party by the name of Jay Lovestone used the term "American exceptionalism" to describe the way in which our economic system differed from the systems in other countries.

You’re probably wondering how a term coined by a commie could end up as an applause line for Republican presidential contenders. Well, you see, it’s linked to the way in which the American followers of Leon Trotsky gradually changed their views during the 1930s in opposition to Josef Stalin’s stance on … never mind. Suffice it to say that so-called "neo" conservatives also use terms like "benevolent global hegemon."

Anyway, the mention of "American exceptionalism" usually comes as part of an attack on President Obama. When asked recently about American exceptionalism, it seems, Obama made a remark to the effect that the British no doubt believe in British exceptionalism, the Greeks in Greek exceptionalism and so on.

This is seen as proof that the president doesn’t believe in the idea that it is the proper role of the American government to liberate foreigners at the expense of the American taxpayer. That would be great news if it were true, but it’s not.

In fact, Obama’s first foreign-policy initiative was to get us further bogged down in a land with little strategic significance, Afghanistan. This was in keeping with the Democrats’ version of the cliché in question. During the 1990s, Bill Clinton and his secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, liked to call America "the indispensable nation" when they were busy bombing the Serbs in pursuit of yet another American interest that remains unidentified to this date.

That was fun while it lasted. But after blowing through a trillion or so dollars liberating Muslims and protecting Europe’s oil supply, America has nothing to show for it but more chaos in the Mideast and high gas prices.

Oh yeah, and a huge debt we’re passing on to the next generation. I saw a lot of young people at CPAC and I was encouraged to observe that their favorite speaker, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, mentioned "American exceptionalism" only to dismiss it as a poor excuse for the Bush-era bungling in the Mideast.

Paul represents the "paleo" conservative view of foreign policy. This can be simply stated as the idea that we Americans should mind our own damn business, as opposed to the "neo" conservative idea that everything’s our business.

Paul was laughed at during the 2008 presidential primaries for espousing this view. But if he runs again, all those exceptionalists will have an exceptionally hard time explaining why we need to keep messing around in the Mideast. Perhaps the voters are up for starting yet a third war in someplace like Iran or Syria while we’ve still got troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. That doesn’t sound like a winning strategy to me. But that’s the strategy of the leading GOP presidential contenders at the moment.

Maybe they ought to have another talk with that guy who comes up with the buzzwords. He’s got his work cut out for him.

TRIVIA QUIZ: And while we're on the subject, can someone name a short piece of verse commonly recited by Americans that was written by a socialist?

Last edited by Mike Parker; September 24th, 2011 at 07:50 AM.
Old September 24th, 2011 #2
Mike Parker
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The Myth of American Exceptionalism and the Tragedy of Neoconservative Foreign Policy

Marc D. Froese
Canadian University College; York University - Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies


This review essay examines Breaking the Real Axis of Evil by Ambassador Mark Palmer (2003) and A War Too Far by Paul Rogers (2006). I argue that Neoconservatism, as a set of ideas and organizing principles, draws extensively on the philosophy of American exceptionalism. In the exceptionalism narrative, Madisonian constitutionalism and a market economy are the highest ideals and the logical end-points of both political revolution and economic reform. In this particular iteration, however, the process of democracy matters less than the outcome, and democracy is valued less as a humanistic ideal and more as a tool of strategic advantage.

The Tragedy of Neoconservative Foreign Policy

The mythology of Neoconservatism in which homo politicus in his unique Anglo-American variant is the archetypal political actor is a useful starting point from which to understand the unique successes and failures of the US-led invasion of Iraq. The Neoconservative ideational universe is built upon a retelling of the myth of American exceptionalism, which first gained global currency in the 19th century. The central neoconservative narrative of global democratic freedom and international economic convergence may recast the elements of exceptionalism but the missionary zeal, that is the fundamental emotional truth at the heart of the myth, remains.

The political value-added of the Neoconservative revolution in foreign affairs is that it is largely compatible with the particular brand of dispensationalist theology preached in American evangelical churches over the past century. This conservative brand of evangelicalism, sometimes known as Christian Zionism, believes that the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 fulfilled Biblical prophecy, and is a sign of the End Times. This convergence of interests between socially conservative, and politically active Christians and the largely secular, libertarian supporters of aggressive intervention has been one of the most significant events in the recent history of Republican conservatism. It is somewhat atypical for a text on the political economy of foreign policy to pay proper attention to these ideational factors that may at first glance appear to be exogenous to the particular problem at hand. The fact that Rogers addresses theological issues, which are taken very seriously by many key American decisionmakers, strengthens his analysis considerably.

Ultimately, Neoconservatism remains blind to the polarizing effect that its assumptions about American exceptionalism have on people in other parts of the world. Some scholars have pointed out that the message of American exceptionalism has been a tremendous source of soft power. The phenomenal spread of Pentecostalism in Asia, which is due at least in part to the rhetorical relationship between dispensational theology and American exceptionalism, is a case in point. Yet in other places, the militancy of the democratization argument and the apparent willingness of American officials to back it up with violence has been fuel for popular protest. Not surprisingly, Palmer is silent about these places.

The Neoconservative worldview found its voice through the exertions of a number of motivated individuals who believe that without radical measures, America will lose its position at the top of the global economic pyramid. Certainly the terror attacks of 2001 gave this brand of nationalism a much-needed shot of adrenalin, but it was then, and remains today, an inward-looking and profoundly self-interested response to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. And this is the tragedy of Neoconservative foreign policy. Despite its rhetoric of freedom, exceptionalism and progress, it has nothing of substance to add to the great debate about the possibilities of human freedom, except perhaps its own tragic tale of hubris. In the end, however, cautionary tales are the stuff of which myths are made.
Old September 24th, 2011 #3
Mike Parker
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The Dangerous Myth of American Exceptionalism

By Joe Fallon on December 21, 2001
Chronicles - October 2001

One thing that distinguishes the French from the Americans is that the French have the good grace to number their failed political experiments—two kingdoms, two empires, and five republics.

Americans, on the other hand, profess "American exceptionalism." They assert that the United States is unique among the countries of the world because she alone has successfully functioned under the same Constitution for more than 200 years. According to "American exceptionalism," the government of the United States has never been overthrown, and the U.S. Constitution has never been changed—except through the amendment process, as established by the Constitutional Convention in 1787.

If ignorance is bliss, then Americans live in a terminal state of euphoria. The War Between the States (as Congress officially termed the conflict in 1928) or the "Civil War" (as the politically correct intentionally mislabel it) alone shatters the myth of "American exceptionalism."

American exceptionalism, however, is not just a myth; it is a dangerous myth, because of its four false corollaries: First, the government of the United States is morally and politically superior to all other governments; second, the government of the United States is "indispensable" for the peace and prosperity of the world; third, other governments, as a matter of national self-interest, must conform to the policies of the government of the United States; and fourth, if any country's government refuses to conform, then the government of the United States is morally entitled to impose economic sanctions or launch military attacks against that country.

Neoconservative "theorists" William Kristol and Robert Kagan took the belief in American exceptionalism to its logical conclusion in the Summer 1996 issue of Foreign Affairs. The objective of the government of the United States, they declared in "Towards a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy," must be nothing less than "benevolent global hegemony." Kristol and Kagan validate the observation of Albert Camus that "the welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants."

The myth of American exceptionalism has transformed the United States from a federal republic with limited constitutional powers into an "evil empire" and a "rogue state." From Afghanistan to Waco, from Ruby Ridge to Yugoslavia, the United States behaves increasingly as both the political equivalent of Friedrich Nietzsche's "superman" and an embryonic version of George Orwell's "Oceania."

Since the advent of political correctness, the U.S. government already practices the Orwellian concepts of "newspeak" and "doublethink." Its domestic and foreign policies are slowly conforming to the official creed of Oceania—"War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength."

In reality, American exceptionalism is "a lie agreed upon." And the lie begins at the beginning. Contrary to the myth's central tenet, the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was not a lawful assembly that produced an extraordinary political document, but an illegal cabal that staged a coup d'etat.

In 1789, just six years after independence, the first republic of the United States, established under the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was overthrown. The justification for this treason was the conviction shared by many politicians—including George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison—that the first republic was too weak to be effective and would remain so because of Article 1 of its constitution. This article limited the general (or federal) government by declaring:

Each State retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.

As a result, the Confederation Congress had no independent source of revenue and had to rely on requisitions it received irregularly from the states; it had no control over foreign or interstate commerce; and it had no power to compel the sovereign states to honor its decisions.

While the impetus for abolishing the first republic was undeniably political—the belief, however dubious, that the Confederation was unworkable and would soon collapse—there were economic motives as well. Those demanding the creation of a second republic included holders of government securities who had not received interest on their loans; landowners and speculators who had been unable to develop commercially the western lands, because the first republic allegedly could not adequately defend or administer the frontier; and merchants, manufacturers, traders, and shippers whose interstate commerce had been adversely affected by conflicting state laws. All these interest groups also shared a common concern: the financial losses they incurred due to confusion over state and "national" currencies and the introduction by farmers of depreciated paper money.

But the actual overthrow of the first republic was the culmination of a series of events that had begun in 1785. Together, they resulted in a creeping coup d'etat.

First, there was the Mount Vernon Compact of March 1785 between Virginia and Maryland (Delaware and Pennsylvania were also invited to join), which dealt with interstate navigation and commerce. It was a success. While not a secessionist movement in the common meaning of the term, the compact, by possessing jurisdiction over the navigation and commercial rights of its members, constituted an embryonic political rival to the first republic.

Second, at the time of the Mount Vernon Compact, the Massachusetts legislature adopted a resolution calling on its delegates to the Confederation Congress to petition for a general convention to revise the Articles of Confederation. Delegates refused on the ground that it would lead to the overthrow of the first republic.

Third, in the summer of 1786, seven amendments to the Articles of Confederation were introduced in the Confederation Congress for reforming and strengthening the first republic. All seven were defeated.

Fourth, by September 1786, farmers were in rebellion throughout New England. Collectively known as "Shays' Rebellion," farmers—so-called "Regulators" (term that would later be replaced by "vigilantes")—took up arms in parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and the independent republic of Vermont to block attempts by their creditors to collect debts by foreclosing on their farms. "[B]y one estimate, nine thousand men—one-fourth of the potential armed force of New England—were up in arms against established authorities." Later, the issue of the "anarchy" of the Regulators, and the "inability" of the Confederation to deal with it effectively, would be manipulated at the Constitutional Convention and in the subsequent ratification debates in the states to justify overthrowing the first republic.

Fifth, in September 1786, the Annapolis Convention (meeting ostensibly to expand the Mount Vernon Compact to include additional states) conspired to draft a new federal structure. It was a failure. Five states—including the host state—refused to send delegates, while delegates from three other states arrived too late to participate. In desperation, the delegates of the five states present submitted a report to the Confederation Congress noting the failure of all states to attend, expressing the need for "reform" of the general government, and calling for a Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia the following May.

The government of the first republic, the Confederation Congress, agreed to this proposal and, in 1787, authorized a Constitutional Convention. But it forbade the drafting of a new constitution. The instructions were explicit: Delegates were gathering "for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation." Virtually every state government issued similar instructions to its delegates.

Equally explicit was Article 13 of the Articles of Confederation, which declared that no revision was legally permitted "unless such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterward confirmed by the Legislatures of every State."

The delegates ignored their instructions and the constitution they had sworn to uphold. Instead, they plotted the overthrow of the first republic. Like good conspirators, they held their deliberations in secret. Armed sentries were posted around the State House where they met. Rules were passed

That no copy be taken of any entry on the journal during the sitting of the House without leave of the House; That members only be permitted to inspect the journal; That nothing spoken in the House be printed, or otherwise published or communicated without leave.

And all loose scraps of papers were to be destroyed.

In a letter to Oliver Ellsworth, delegate from Connecticut, a friend expressed an opinion of the Constitutional Convention that was shared by many Americans: "Full of Disputation and noisy as the Wind, it is said, that you are afraid of the very Windows, and have a Man planted under them to prevent the Secrets and Doings from flying out."

This obsession with secrecy bordered on paranoia. When Benjamin Franklin, the oldest and (arguably) the most famous delegate to the Constitutional Convention, would attend dinner parties in Philadelphia, the other delegates had a colleague accompany him to ensure that Franklin did not divulge any information of the proceedings to the public.

In such a setting of suspicion and isolation, the delegates, motivated by economic self-interest as well as pragmatic political concerns, illegally drafted a new Constitution, which unconstitutionally declared ratification by only nine of the 13 states to be sufficient for its adoption.

Some delegates, however, raised fundamental questions of legality and logic. Luther Martin of Maryland challenged the majority:

Will you tell us we ought to trust you because you now enter into a solemn compact with us? This you have done before, and now treat with the utmost contempt. Will you now make an appeal to the Supreme Being, and call on Him to guarantee your observance of this compact? The same you have formerly done for your observance of the Articles of Confederation, which you are now violating in the most wanton manner.

Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts took the majority's position on ratification to its logical conclusion—"if nine out of thirteen can dissolve the compact, Six out of nine will be just as able to dissolve the new one hereafter."

By its actions, the Constitutional Convention proved itself to be a conclave of conspirators who betrayed their sacred oaths to the constitution of the first republic and usurped power. The subsequent adoption of the U.S. Constitution, and the establishment of the second republic, was achieved by extraconstitutional means. It was a bloodless coup d'etat. It was, in fact, a very civil coup d'etat. But it was a coup d'etat, nonetheless.

The second republic, however, did share its predecessor's ideological conviction that the United States was a compact among sovereign states, which had delegated limited powers to the government. In the words of Alexander Hamilton, one of the chief architects of the second republic, the United States would "still be, in fact and in theory, an association of States, or a confederacy."

But the coup d'etat of 1789 set a suicidal precedent. On the same pretext of establishing "a more perfect union," the second republic was overthrown by Abraham Lincoln when he launched his war against the South—a war the U.S. Supreme Court declared unconstitutional in the "Prize Cases" of December 1862. Lincoln destroyed the federal principles of 1783 and 1789 and replaced them with the ideological foundation for today's centralized, "welfare-warfare," bureaucratic state.

To the degree that American exceptionalism ever existed, it was as an experiment in limited government based on the unique concept of dual sovereignties—state and federal—embodied in the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. But that political experiment lasted only six years, from 1783 to 1789. The Constitutional Convention did not create American exceptionalism; it destroyed it.

Joseph E. Fallon, author of Deconstructing America: Immigration, Nationality and Statehood (Council for Social and Economic Studies, Washington, D.C.), writes from Rye, New York.
Old September 24th, 2011 #4
Rick Ronsavelle
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TRIVIA QUIZ: And while we're on the subject, can someone name a short piece of verse commonly recited by Americans that was written by a socialist?

Pledge of Allegiance
Old September 25th, 2011 #5
Kamerad Q
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“The objective of the government of the United States, they declared in "Towards a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy," must be nothing less than "benevolent global hegemony." Kristol and Kagan validate the observation of Albert Camus that "the welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants." 1996”
The long since forgotten half of the Monroe Doctrine of December 2nd, 1823; “the United States would neither interfere with existing European colonies nor meddle in the internal concerns of European countries“. On September 2nd 1901 “couldn’t kill a bear” Theodore Roosevelt modified it to read as; "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." On April 2, 1917 Woodrow “campaign on peace” Wilson gave a tone of evangelical hubris to the soft voice with these soothing words; “vindicate principles of peace and justice in the life of the world as against selfish and autocratic power” thus fast tacking global interventionism. To put the enormity of change to come into perspective, at that time Spain fielded a larger army than the U.S.

Benevolent global hegemony is just the latest euphemism for uncle Sam’s swaggering across the globe with a big evangelical stick stuck up his ass with Master Jew strapped on Blaster’s shoulders pointing the way. And there is nothing soft about the speech ether; it’s a perpetual shriek of fear and moral imperatives compressed and overdriven into shrill high-order odd harmonics with reverberating happy clappers adding to the deafening drone.

Ever since Uncle Sam began adding the distinctiveness of useful partners to the imperium the spectacle becomes ever more strange. Not only does he walk funny due to the placement of the big evangelical stick, he looks funny, and with addition of official gaydum to the mix he’s beginning to talk funny too. Fate has dealt him a cruel hand, but for the love of money above everything else he would have been a titan.

TRIVIA QUIZ: What was the former name of the place where Jupiter's temple now resides in the u.S.A.?

Das computermachine ist nicht fuer gefingerpoken und mittengrabben. Ist easy schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und poppencorken mit spitzensparken. Ist nicht fuer gewerken bei das dumpkopfen. Das rubbernecken sichtseeren keepen das cotten-pickenen hans in das pockets muss; relaxen und watchen das blinkenlichten.
Old October 4th, 2011 #6
Mike Parker
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A City Upon A Hill

The Daily Caller
April 26, 2011
David Bossie

During his travels in 1831, the French writer Alexis de Tocqueville observed that America was an exceptional nation with a special role to play in history. Tocqueville wrote that, unlike Europe, where social standing defined a citizen, America was a new republic where liberty, equality, individualism, and laissez-faire economics defined the “American creed.”

Citizens United Productions will premiere “A City upon a Hill,” a documentary film about American exceptionalism, this Friday, April 29, in Washington, D.C. “A City upon a Hill” is hosted by Newt and Callista Gingrich and is written and directed by award-winning film maker Kevin Knoblock (“Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous With Destiny,” “Nine Days That Changed The World,” “America at Risk”).

Throughout our history, the United States has risen to meet great challenges — sometimes out of necessity but often out of the determination to create a better future for the next generation. At the time of our founding, no other nation had adopted the radical ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. No other nation had declared, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” — rights that no king or government could take away.

“A City upon a Hill” explores the concept of American exceptionalism from its origin to the present day. What makes our Declaration of Independence and Constitution special? Why did George Washington relinquish power? How did we climb out of the Great Depression to become the world’s greatest economic power? Why did we lead the liberation of Europe during World War II? And why was it important to be the first to land on the moon? Learn the answers to these questions and more in “A City upon a Hill.”

In “A City upon a Hill,” Michael Barone says, “I don’t think it’s arrogant to believe in American exceptionalism, that we have a special role in history because when we believe that, we’re not believing that we as individuals are particularly special and good or virtuous that we’ve done so much. We’re simply acknowledging what seems to me to be the plain fact of history — that we stand on the shoulders of giants, that we are lucky enough to have inherited, or in the case of immigrants, to have chosen, the heritage that belongs to the United States of America.”

America is a unique nation, and stands above all others because of that uniqueness. Unfortunately, President Obama wants to move America to more of a European style of democracy. From Egypt to France, President Obama has been on an apology tour telling global leaders that America is just one of many exceptional nations.

This documentary, featuring interviews with historians, politicians, and experts, including Donald Trump, Rep. Michele Bachmann, Rep. Allen West, Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Buzz Aldrin, Douglas Brinkley, Edwin Meese III, Allen Guelzo, Fred Barnes, Michael Barone, Andrew Breitbart, S.E. Cupp, Phyllis Schlafly, and many more, tells the story that America is not just one of many, but America is indeed an exceptional nation.

Please view the trailer here and find out more about the American spirit and the exceptional nature of our country at
Old October 4th, 2011 #7
Leonard Rouse
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American Exceptionalism

What a dreadful construction, like the shit b-school hacks trainwreck for the Fortune 500. That's aside from the substance (if I can call it that), some sort of de-nutted nationalism conflated with judeo-'liberalism.'

Look at who's pumping it: Newt Gingrich. Makes me want to take a bath just reading the term.
Old October 5th, 2011 #8
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Yep to this whole thread. Jews, corporations, and liberal do gooder globalists have caused this new breed of US interventionism, PNAC having been one of the most recent egregious examples of jews being allowed to run wild, frothing at the mouth, on the US taxpayer's dime.
Hell really is other people.
Old October 6th, 2011 #9
Mike Parker
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Summer 1942, Winter 2010: An Exchange

Michael O'Meara

America’s annihilation of her commencement revealed her own inherent lack of commencement.

From the start, her project was to reject her European origins — to disown the being that made her who she was — as her Low Church settlers pursued the metaphor of Two Worlds, Old and New.

For Heidegger, America’s “entry into this planetary war is not [her] entry into history; rather, it is already, the ultimate American act of American ahistoricality and self-devastation.”

For having emerged, immaculately conceived, from the jeremiad of her Puritan Errand, America defined herself in rejection of her past, in rejection of her origins, in rejection of her most fundamental ontological ground — as she looked westward, toward the evening sun and the ever-expanding frontier of her rootless, fleeting future, mythically legitimated in the name of an ‘American Dream’ conjured up from the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism.

Americans, the preeminent rational, rootless, uniform homo oeconomics, never bothered looking ahead because they never looked back. Past and future, root and branch – all pulled up and cut down.

No memory, no past, no meaning.

In the name of progress — which Friedrick Engels imagined as a ‘cruel chariot riding over mounds of broken bodies’ – American being is dissolved in her hurly-burly advance toward the blackening abyss.

Yet however it is spun, it was from Europe’s womb that Americans entered the world and only in affirming the European being of their Motherland and Fatherhood was there the possibility of taking root in their “New” World – without succumbing to the barbarians and fellaheen outside the Mother-soil and Father-Culture.

Instead, America’s founders set out to reject their mother. They called her Egyptian or Babylonian — and took their identity – as the ‘elect’, the ‘chosen’, the ‘light to nations’ — from the desert nomads of the Old Testament — alien to the great forests of our Northern lands — envious of our blue-eye, fair-hair girls – repelled by the great-vaulted heights of our Gothic Cathedrals.

The abandonment of their original and only being set Americans up as the perpetual fixers of world-improvement — ideological champions of consummate meaninglessness – nihilism’s first great ‘nation’.
Old October 18th, 2011 #10
Mike Parker
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The Myth of American Exceptionalism

The idea that the United States is uniquely virtuous may be comforting to Americans. Too bad it's not true.


Over the last two centuries, prominent Americans have described the United States as an "empire of liberty," a "shining city on a hill," the "last best hope of Earth," the "leader of the free world," and the "indispensable nation." These enduring tropes explain why all presidential candidates feel compelled to offer ritualistic paeans to America's greatness and why President Barack Obama landed in hot water -- most recently, from Mitt Romney -- for saying that while he believed in "American exceptionalism," it was no different from "British exceptionalism," "Greek exceptionalism," or any other country's brand of patriotic chest-thumping.

Most statements of "American exceptionalism" presume that America's values, political system, and history are unique and worthy of universal admiration. They also imply that the United States is both destined and entitled to play a distinct and positive role on the world stage.

The only thing wrong with this self-congratulatory portrait of America's global role is that it is mostly a myth. Although the United States possesses certain unique qualities -- from high levels of religiosity to a political culture that privileges individual freedom -- the conduct of U.S. foreign policy has been determined primarily by its relative power and by the inherently competitive nature of international politics. By focusing on their supposedly exceptional qualities, Americans blind themselves to the ways that they are a lot like everyone else.

This unchallenged faith in American exceptionalism makes it harder for Americans to understand why others are less enthusiastic about U.S. dominance, often alarmed by U.S. policies, and frequently irritated by what they see as U.S. hypocrisy, whether the subject is possession of nuclear weapons, conformity with international law, or America's tendency to condemn the conduct of others while ignoring its own failings. Ironically, U.S. foreign policy would probably be more effective if Americans were less convinced of their own unique virtues and less eager to proclaim them.

What we need, in short, is a more realistic and critical assessment of America's true character and contributions. In that spirit, I offer here the Top 5 Myths about American Exceptionalism.

Myth 1

There Is Something Exceptional About American Exceptionalism.

Whenever American leaders refer to the "unique" responsibilities of the United States, they are saying that it is different from other powers and that these differences require them to take on special burdens.

Yet there is nothing unusual about such lofty declarations; indeed, those who make them are treading a well-worn path. Most great powers have considered themselves superior to their rivals and have believed that they were advancing some greater good when they imposed their preferences on others. The British thought they were bearing the "white man's burden," while French colonialists invoked la mission civilisatrice to justify their empire. Portugal, whose imperial activities were hardly distinguished, believed it was promoting a certain missão civilizadora. Even many of the officials of the former Soviet Union genuinely believed they were leading the world toward a socialist utopia despite the many cruelties that communist rule inflicted. Of course, the United States has by far the better claim to virtue than Stalin or his successors, but Obama was right to remind us that all countries prize their own particular qualities.

So when Americans proclaim they are exceptional and indispensable, they are simply the latest nation to sing a familiar old song. Among great powers, thinking you're special is the norm, not the exception.

Myth 2

The United States Behaves Better Than Other Nations Do.

Declarations of American exceptionalism rest on the belief that the United States is a uniquely virtuous nation, one that loves peace, nurtures liberty, respects human rights, and embraces the rule of law. Americans like to think their country behaves much better than other states do, and certainly better than other great powers.

If only it were true. The United States may not have been as brutal as the worst states in world history, but a dispassionate look at the historical record belies most claims about America's moral superiority.

For starters, the United States has been one of the most expansionist powers in modern history. It began as 13 small colonies clinging to the Eastern Seaboard, but eventually expanded across North America, seizing Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California from Mexico in 1846. Along the way, it eliminated most of the native population and confined the survivors to impoverished reservations. By the mid-19th century, it had pushed Britain out of the Pacific Northwest and consolidated its hegemony over the Western Hemisphere.

The United States has fought numerous wars since then -- starting several of them -- and its wartime conduct has hardly been a model of restraint. The 1899-1902 conquest of the Philippines killed some 200,000 to 400,000 Filipinos, most of them civilians, and the United States and its allies did not hesitate to dispatch some 305,000 German and 330,000 Japanese civilians through aerial bombing during World War II, mostly through deliberate campaigns against enemy cities. No wonder Gen. Curtis LeMay, who directed the bombing campaign against Japan, told an aide, "If the U.S. lost the war, we would be prosecuted as war criminals." The United States dropped more than 6 million tons of bombs during the Indochina war, including tons of napalm and lethal defoliants like Agent Orange, and it is directly responsible for the deaths of many of the roughly 1 million civilians who died in that war.

More recently, the U.S.-backed Contra war in Nicaragua killed some 30,000 Nicaraguans, a percentage of their population equivalent to 2 million dead Americans. U.S. military action has led directly or indirectly to the deaths of 250,000 Muslims over the past three decades (and that's a low-end estimate, not counting the deaths resulting from the sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s), including the more than 100,000 people who died following the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. U.S. drones and Special Forces are going after suspected terrorists in at least five countries at present and have killed an unknown number of innocent civilians in the process. Some of these actions may have been necessary to make Americans more prosperous and secure. But while Americans would undoubtedly regard such acts as indefensible if some foreign country were doing them to us, hardly any U.S. politicians have questioned these policies. Instead, Americans still wonder, "Why do they hate us?"

The United States talks a good game on human rights and international law, but it has refused to sign most human rights treaties, is not a party to the International Criminal Court, and has been all too willing to cozy up to dictators -- remember our friend Hosni Mubarak? -- with abysmal human rights records. If that were not enough, the abuses at Abu Ghraib and the George W. Bush administration's reliance on waterboarding, extraordinary rendition, and preventive detention should shake America's belief that it consistently acts in a morally superior fashion. Obama's decision to retain many of these policies suggests they were not a temporary aberration.

The United States never conquered a vast overseas empire or caused millions to die through tyrannical blunders like China's Great Leap Forward or Stalin's forced collectivization. And given the vast power at its disposal for much of the past century, Washington could certainly have done much worse. But the record is clear: U.S. leaders have done what they thought they had to do when confronted by external dangers, and they paid scant attention to moral principles along the way. The idea that the United States is uniquely virtuous may be comforting to Americans; too bad it's not true.

Myth 3

America's Success Is Due to Its Special Genius.

The United States has enjoyed remarkable success, and Americans tend to portray their rise to world power as a direct result of the political foresight of the Founding Fathers, the virtues of the U.S. Constitution, the priority placed on individual liberty, and the creativity and hard work of the American people. In this narrative, the United States enjoys an exceptional global position today because it is, well, exceptional.

There is more than a grain of truth to this version of American history. It's not an accident that immigrants came to America in droves in search of economic opportunity, and the "melting pot" myth facilitated the assimilation of each wave of new Americans. America's scientific and technological achievements are fully deserving of praise and owe something to the openness and vitality of the American political order.

But America's past success is due as much to good luck as to any uniquely American virtues. The new nation was lucky that the continent was lavishly endowed with natural resources and traversed by navigable rivers. It was lucky to have been founded far from the other great powers and even luckier that the native population was less advanced and highly susceptible to European diseases. Americans were fortunate that the European great powers were at war for much of the republic's early history, which greatly facilitated its expansion across the continent, and its global primacy was ensured after the other great powers fought two devastating world wars. This account of America's rise does not deny that the United States did many things right, but it also acknowledges that America's present position owes as much to good fortune as to any special genius or "manifest destiny."

Myth 4

The United States Is Responsible for Most of the Good in the World.

Americans are fond of giving themselves credit for positive international developments. President Bill Clinton believed the United States was "indispensable to the forging of stable political relations," and the late Harvard University political scientist Samuel P. Huntington thought U.S. primacy was central "to the future of freedom, democracy, open economies, and international order in the world." Journalist Michael Hirsh has gone even further, writing in his book At War With Ourselves that America's global role is "the greatest gift the world has received in many, many centuries, possibly all of recorded history." Scholarly works such as Tony Smith's America's Mission and G. John Ikenberry's Liberal Leviathan emphasize America's contribution to the spread of democracy and its promotion of a supposedly liberal world order. Given all the high-fives American leaders have given themselves, it is hardly surprising that most Americans see their country as an overwhelmingly positive force in world affairs.

Once again, there is something to this line of argument, just not enough to make it entirely accurate. The United States has made undeniable contributions to peace and stability in the world over the past century, including the Marshall Plan, the creation and management of the Bretton Woods system, its rhetorical support for the core principles of democracy and human rights, and its mostly stabilizing military presence in Europe and the Far East. But the belief that all good things flow from Washington's wisdom overstates the U.S. contribution by a wide margin.

For starters, though Americans watching Saving Private Ryan or Patton may conclude that the United States played the central role in vanquishing Nazi Germany, most of the fighting was in Eastern Europe and the main burden of defeating Hitler's war machine was borne by the Soviet Union. Similarly, though the Marshall Plan and NATO played important roles in Europe's post-World War II success, Europeans deserve at least as much credit for rebuilding their economies, constructing a novel economic and political union, and moving beyond four centuries of sometimes bitter rivalry. Americans also tend to think they won the Cold War all by themselves, a view that ignores the contributions of other anti-Soviet adversaries and the courageous dissidents whose resistance to communist rule produced the "velvet revolutions" of 1989.

Moreover, as Godfrey Hodgson recently noted in his sympathetic but clear-eyed book, The Myth of American Exceptionalism, the spread of liberal ideals is a global phenomenon with roots in the Enlightenment, and European philosophers and political leaders did much to advance the democratic ideal. Similarly, the abolition of slavery and the long effort to improve the status of women owe more to Britain and other democracies than to the United States, where progress in both areas trailed many other countries. Nor can the United States claim a global leadership role today on gay rights, criminal justice, or economic equality -- Europe's got those areas covered.

Finally, any honest accounting of the past half-century must acknowledge the downside of American primacy. The United States has been the major producer of greenhouse gases for most of the last hundred years and thus a principal cause of the adverse changes that are altering the global environment. The United States stood on the wrong side of the long struggle against apartheid in South Africa and backed plenty of unsavory dictatorships -- including Saddam Hussein's -- when short-term strategic interests dictated. Americans may be justly proud of their role in creating and defending Israel and in combating global anti-Semitism, but its one-sided policies have also prolonged Palestinian statelessness and sustained Israel's brutal occupation.

Bottom line: Americans take too much credit for global progress and accept too little blame for areas where U.S. policy has in fact been counterproductive. Americans are blind to their weak spots, and in ways that have real-world consequences. Remember when Pentagon planners thought U.S. troops would be greeted in Baghdad with flowers and parades? They mostly got RPGs and IEDs instead.

Myth 5

God Is on Our Side.

A crucial component of American exceptionalism is the belief that the United States has a divinely ordained mission to lead the rest of the world. Ronald Reagan told audiences that there was "some divine plan" that had placed America here, and once quoted Pope Pius XII saying, "Into the hands of America God has placed the destinies of an afflicted mankind." Bush offered a similar view in 2004, saying, "We have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom." The same idea was expressed, albeit less nobly, in Otto von Bismarck's alleged quip that "God has a special providence for fools, drunks, and the United States."

Confidence is a valuable commodity for any country. But when a nation starts to think it enjoys the mandate of heaven and becomes convinced that it cannot fail or be led astray by scoundrels or incompetents, then reality is likely to deliver a swift rebuke. Ancient Athens, Napoleonic France, imperial Japan, and countless other countries have succumbed to this sort of hubris, and nearly always with catastrophic results.

Despite America's many successes, the country is hardly immune from setbacks, follies, and boneheaded blunders. If you have any doubts about that, just reflect on how a decade of ill-advised tax cuts, two costly and unsuccessful wars, and a financial meltdown driven mostly by greed and corruption have managed to squander the privileged position the United States enjoyed at the end of the 20th century. Instead of assuming that God is on their side, perhaps Americans should heed Abraham Lincoln's admonition that our greatest concern should be "whether we are on God's side."

Given the many challenges Americans now face, from persistent unemployment to the burden of winding down two deadly wars, it's unsurprising that they find the idea of their own exceptionalism comforting -- and that their aspiring political leaders have been proclaiming it with increasing fervor. Such patriotism has its benefits, but not when it leads to a basic misunderstanding of America's role in the world. This is exactly how bad decisions get made.

America has its own special qualities, as all countries do, but it is still a state embedded in a competitive global system. It is far stronger and richer than most, and its geopolitical position is remarkably favorable. These advantages give the United States a wider range of choice in its conduct of foreign affairs, but they don't ensure that its choices will be good ones. Far from being a unique state whose behavior is radically different from that of other great powers, the United States has behaved like all the rest, pursuing its own self-interest first and foremost, seeking to improve its relative position over time, and devoting relatively little blood or treasure to purely idealistic pursuits. Yet, just like past great powers, it has convinced itself that it is different, and better, than everyone else.

International politics is a contact sport, and even powerful states must compromise their political principles for the sake of security and prosperity. Nationalism is also a powerful force, and it inevitably highlights the country's virtues and sugarcoats its less savory aspects. But if Americans want to be truly exceptional, they might start by viewing the whole idea of "American exceptionalism" with a much more skeptical eye.

Stephen M. Walt, an FP contributing editor, is Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He blogs at
Old October 23rd, 2011 #11
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A conservative believer in the American Exceptionalism ideology would classify VNN as Anti-Americanism and stupid Jewspiracies ...
Only force rules. Force is the first law - Adolf H. Man has become great through struggle - Adolf H. Strength lies not in defense but in attack - Adolf H.
Old December 11th, 2011 #12
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Default Exceptionalism more a fantasy than ever

‘Malcontents’ wish moral power might make US truly exceptional

“America is a unique and exceptional nation.”
-- Mitt Romney

Along with flags pinned on lapels and hands over hearts during the national anthem, expressions of American exceptionalism are all but a requirement for anyone seeking political office. Mitt Romney’s use of the phrase is a staple of his stump speeches, as it is of the other Republican candidates now roaming the land in the quadrennial exercise in self-promotion.

American exceptionalism is the belief that the American nation and its people are not only different from all others but are superior. Greatness is in our national gene pool. Our values are higher. We are leaders of the free world. No other nation can match our achievements. Our destiny is to be No. 1. We are the role model for the world, for what Lyndon Johnson called “all those little nations.” We are “the land of opportunity” for those stuck in lands of no opportunity. The American way of life is the best way of life. The world looks to us and sighs, “Only in America.”

Exceptionalism is traceable to Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America: “The position of the Americans is therefore quite exceptional, and it may be believed that no other democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one.” Exceptionalism is the basis for American foreign policy, as when Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton’s secretary of state, said on Feb. 19, 1998, as she demanded that Saddam Hussein “get rid of his weapons of mass destruction”: Diplomacy is fine “but if we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future.”

Exceptionalism is little more than national pride gone wild, a nation overrun by leaders consumed with bragging rights. The mouthings of the Romneys and Albrights lie somewhere between wishful thinking and self-serving myths, with neither having any discernable ties to reality. America -- the name itself has Italian, not native, origins -- is one nation among nearly 200 in the world, with the same share of virtues and flaws. Americans are about 5 percent of the Earth’s population, the planet itself once described by Alfred North Whitehead as a third-rate rock spinning around a second-rate sun.

At this particular moment, when our economy is in shambles, banks are failing, disdain for politicians grows, half of our work force have salaries below $26,000, energy independence is a dream, the gulf between rich and poor widens, well more than half the country believes the Iraq War was not worth it, and schools are failing, exceptional is more of a fantasy than ever. This should be a time for humility, not boasting.

“One of the consequences of exceptionalism,” Howard Zinn wrote in 2005, “is that the U.S. government considers itself exempt from legal and moral standards accepted by other nations in the world. There is a long list of self-exemptions: the refusal to sign the Kyoto Treaty regulating the pollution of the environment, the refusal to strengthen the convention on biological weapons. The United States has failed to join the 100-plus nations that have agreed to ban land mines. … It refuses to ban napalm and cluster bombs. It insists that it must not be subject, as are other countries, to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.”

Zinn represents the kind of citizen Newt Gingrich attacks in his book, A Nation Like No Other: Why American Exceptionalism Matters: “There is a determined group of radicals in the United States who outright oppose American exceptionalism. Often convinced America is a uniquely brutal, racist and malevolent country, these malcontents struggle to reduce American power and transform our political and economic systems into the kind of statist socialist model that is now failing across Europe.”

When it comes to power, radicals and malcontents do indeed seek reductions -- if by power is meant military power. They are looking to increase the nation’s moral power, of a kind that would make America truly unique. As one nation among many, it would strive to bully less and listen more, compete less and cooperate more, pound its chest less and share its wealth more, reject peace through strength and embrace strength through peace. Do that and America might have a claim to be exceptional.

[Colman McCarthy directs the Center for Teaching Peace in Washington and teaches courses on nonviolence at four universities and two high schools.]
Only force rules. Force is the first law - Adolf H. Man has become great through struggle - Adolf H. Strength lies not in defense but in attack - Adolf H.
Old February 12th, 2012 #13
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[Government shouldn't tell us how to live our lives, except when it comes to Cuban cigars.]

Marco Rubio: The greatest thing we can do for the world is be America; Update: Video from blogger briefing added

February 9, 2012 by Tina Korbe

In a characteristically compelling speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Marco Rubio framed the November 2012 election is sweeping terms: The choice voters will face this fall, he said, will be whether America will remain a great nation or whether it will recede into the background.

“The most powerful thing about our nation is the American example,” Rubio said. “Anywhere you go in the world people know that there is a person just like them living here doing things they cannot. They realize it doesn’t have to be the way it is for them. Do you know why people sacrifice their lives and struggle to access democracy across the world? Because they’ve seen what can happen here.”

Rubio reminded the audience that America doesn’t have to be the exception; it can easily follow the pattern Europe has set for it and other once-dominant regions of the world have set. But the consequences won’t be pleasant for the U.S. — or the rest of the world.

“What happens if we decide we don’t want to be the greatest country in the world?” Rubio asked. “Someone else will fill that space. Right now, the only nations that could even try to do it are nations that don’t believe what we do. … Do you know why they cannot vote to condemn Syria? Because they reserve the right to do to their own people what Syria has done to its people if their governments are threatened.”

The conservative movement, at its core, wants to preserve America’s greatness for future generations, Rubio said. Tax and regulatory reform, energy exploration, entitlement reform — conservative policy prescriptions all aim to ensure that people have the freedom and opportunity to pursue their dreams and, in the process, create prosperity for the nation.

“You have to be strong economically; you have to be strong militarily,” Rubio said. “But you know what else has to be strong? Your people have to be strong.”

Rubio urged voters to embrace the weight of exceptionalism.

“The greatest thing we can do for the world is be America,” he said. “We Americans are uncomfortable too often by our nature by the idea that we are who we are. We would prefer for everyone to reach the same conclusions we have on their own. I think it’s important to realize … being an American is a blessing and it’s also a responsibility — [to] do the right things at home to ensure we’re an example to the rest of the world.”

Update (Ed): Before he gave this speech, Senator Rubio met with conservative bloggers and journalists in a 30-minute meeting. I’m trying to get more of the meeting uploaded — I videotaped the whole thing — but I do have the opening statement on tape. Rubio said that Barack Obama was right in that he inherited a bad situation, but he got everything he wanted from a Democratic Congress and made everything worse as a result. Far from apologizing for America’s impact on the world, Obama should recognize that “the world is safer and more prosperous because of the American century”:

Matt Lewis and Jim Geraghty have more on the briefing. A few of my highlights from the Q&A, which I hope to compile in a later video:

•Rubio is pleased that the GOP is positioning itself as the pro-legal immigration party.
•Iran uses terror as “statecraft” and the normal working of its foreign policy; we need to impose “crippling sanctions” and leave all other options on the table to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon
•Most Americans are conservative, Rubio said, and says we can see that in the dynamics of the Republican and Democratic parties. Republicans compete to see who is the most reliable conservative, the most like Ronald Reagan; why don’t we see Democrats competing for the title of “most liberal” or most like Jimmy Carter?
•Having the US without a budget is just “weird,” Rubio says, and it’s unbelievable that the most powerful nation on the planet cannot pass a budget.
Old February 12th, 2012 #14
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LOL @ "American exceptionalism"

Yeah, a country with no manufacturing sector, who's faltering economy is based solely on gross consumerism, has very few good paying jobs, graduates very few engineers and scientists, has just shut down it's space program, has a massively high crime rate, has almost half it's population on drugs, is drowning in debt, is ostensibly run by jews, takes foreign policy orders from Israel, has a health care policy based on letting people simply be forgotten about and die, is mired in recession, has a population of people so diverse that they never agree on anything, is bogged down in multiple foreign wars that it can't win, and is over run by violent gangs is sure exceptional.

Kind of like in the way that an extra large pile of horse shit is "exceptional".
Hell really is other people.
Old April 9th, 2012 #15
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[A bunch of cheerleaders arguing over who has more school spirit.]

Apr 2, 2012

Obama Rebuffs Romney on ‘American Exceptionalism’

President Obama has rarely engaged Mitt Romney directly over policy and politics so far during the presidential primary campaign.

But today Obama didn’t pass up an opportunity when asked about GOP frontrunner’s claims, made over the weekend, that the president does not believe in the “exceptionalism” of the U.S.

“It’s worth noting that I first arrived on the national stage with a speech at the Democratic Convention that was entirely about American exceptionalism and that my entire career has been a testimony to American exceptionalism,” Obama said at an afternoon Rose Garden press conference.

“But, you know, I will cut folks some slack for now because they’re still trying to get their nomination,” he added, without mentioning Romney by name.

During a Saturday speech in Pewaukee, Wisc., Romney questioned Obama’s commitment to the view of America as a unique and unrivaled world power sustained by the values of free enterprise.

“Our president doesn’t have the same feelings about American exceptionalism that we do,” Romney said Saturday. “And I think over the last three or four years, some people around the world have begun to question that. On this Tuesday, we have an opportunity — you have an opportunity — to vote, and take the next step in bringing back that special nature of being American.”

Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia all hold primary votes on Tuesday.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who joined Obama in the Rose Garden on Monday, declined to respond to Romney’s claim that America’s influence has declined under Obama.

But Harper praised the president and the U.S. for its leadership over the past three years.

“For Canada, the United States is and always will be our closest neighbor, our greatest ally and our best friend. And I believe that American leadership is at all times great and indispensable for the world,” Harper said.

“We had under your leadership, Barack, that successful intervention in Libya. Our trade relationship is the biggest in the world and growing. And so I think it’s been a tremendous partnership,” he said.
Old April 14th, 2012 #16
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Romney, Obama and God: Who sees America as more divine?

April 13, 2012

This year’s presidential campaign has had its share of arguments over issues long thought settled — contraception, for one. But another wrangle between Republicans and President Obama dates far earlier than that 1960s throwback and centers on the very origins of the nation.

Republicans have argued that the president fails to understand that the country was divinely inspired, based on the Declaration of Independence's assertion that citizens were “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”

The "American exceptionalism" argument, as it is known, is meant to curry favor with tea party adherents who revere the founding documents, inspire a religiously tinged sense of optimism and -- not least -- portray the president as out of the American mainstream.

"Our president doesn't have the same feelings about American exceptionalism that we do," Mitt Romney said recently in Wisconsin. Voters have an opportunity "to restore to this country the principles that made this nation the greatest nation in the history of the Earth."

The implication that Obama doesn't understand the nation's inception has struck critics as a variation on earlier unfounded accusations by others that he was foreign-born or a Muslim. Obama himself responded this month when asked about Romney's statement.

"My entire career has been a testimony to American exceptionalism," Obama said, pointing to the 2004 Democratic convention speech that lofted him into the running for the presidency. That speech repeatedly struck the very themes and quoted the same Declaration of Independence passage often invoked by the GOP candidates.

The concept of "American exceptionalism" is not new -- French historian Alex de Tocqueville espoused such a sentiment in the 1800s. There is disagreement about when the phrase itself was coined, but it may have come from liberal political scientist Louis Hartz in the 1950s.

It reemerged as a de rigueur part of the GOP vocabulary after Obama was asked during his first overseas presidential trip in 2009 whether he subscribed to the theory.

"I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism," he said, before reiterating that his belief came from the values enshrined in the Constitution, including free speech and equality. "I'm enormously proud of my country and its role and history in the world."

Republicans emphasized his first line and brushed aside the rest.

"It launched some of the early criticism of the president to the effect that he was insufficiently willing to assert the supremacy of the American way of life," said William Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former advisor to President Clinton. "I would bet that the president wishes he hadn't phrased the point that way."

Almost every politician who has run or considered a run for the 2012 GOP nomination has raised the matter to pummel Obama. Romney and Sarah Palin weighed in on it in their books, with Palin titling a chapter "America the Exceptional."

In March, during a campaign stop in Mississippi, Newt Gingrich said that he believed in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

"Now this is the opposite of Obamism. Because Obamism is a repudiation of the Declaration of Independence," he said.

Rick Santorum so regularly cited the passage about a creator establishing rights that his audiences routinely filled in the words for him.

Some say the exceptionalism argument is a benign way to offer comfort during difficult economic times. They see it as a sunny, optimistic continuation of President Reagan's 1984 biblically based statement that America was a "shining city on a hill" and Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 1933 admonishment that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Kenneth Khachigian, Reagan's speechwriter during the 1980 and 1984 campaigns, said during the primary the GOP candidates lacked the late president's tone and emotional connection. He advised easing into more restorative, visionary language in the general election.

"You can't let Obama out-hope you in this campaign," he said.

The religious bent of the exceptionalism argument is in line with popular belief. Nearly six in 10 Americans agree that "God has granted America a special role in history," according to a 2010 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution.

But others see more malignant intent. Donald E. Pease, author of the 2009 book "The New American Exceptionalism," said he believes fealty to the notion echoes Cold War-era anti-communism loyalty oaths. Pease said he views Gingrich's comments in particular as an attempt to identify Obama as un-American.

"I do think there's a kind of coding going on there," said Pease, a Dartmouth professor.

Voters nonetheless respond to such language. Peter Draganic said Romney's recent remarks in a Cleveland suburb reminded him of seeing Reagan speak when he was 10.

"I felt pride in America and those values we don't hear about too often anymore," he said. "A lot of what you hear today is a lot of putting down America ... and you forget we are a country made of great people who do great things. It's nice to hear somebody talk about that -- it gives you hope and encouragement for the future."

Louis Hartz

Louis Hartz (April 8, 1919 – January 20, 1986) was an American political scientist and influential liberal proponent of the idea of American exceptionalism.

Hartz was born in Youngstown, Ohio, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants, but grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. After graduating from Technical High School in Omaha, he attended Harvard University, financed partly by a scholarship from the Omaha World Herald.


Hartz graduated in 1940, spent a year traveling abroad on a fellowship, then returned to Harvard as a teaching fellow in 1942. He earned his doctorate in 1946 and became a full professor of government in 1956. Hartz was known at Harvard for his talented and charismatic teaching. He retired in 1974 due to ill health and spent his last years living in London, New Delhi, New York, then Istanbul, where he died.

Hartz is best known for his classic book The Liberal Tradition in America (1955) which presented a view of America's past that sought to explain its conspicuous absence of ideologies. Hartz argued that American political development occurs within the context of an enduring, underlying Lockean liberal consensus, which has shaped and narrowed the landscape of possibilities for U.S. political thought and behavior. He attributed the triumph of the liberal worldview in America to its lack of a feudal past, and thus the absence of a struggle to overcome a conservative internal order; to its vast resources and open space; and to the liberal values of the original settlers, who represented only a narrow middle-class slice of European society.

Hartz was chiefly concerned with explaining the failure of socialism to become established in America, and believed that Americans' pervasive, unthinking consensual acceptance of classic liberalism was the major barrier. Hartz rejected Marxism, indeed turned it upside down, finding in the power of an idea the explanation of that inexplicable nonevent for Marxists, the absence of socialism in America.[1]

In The Founding of New Societies (1964), Hartz developed the idea that the nations that developed from settler colonies were European "fragments" that in a sense froze the class structure and underlying ideology prevalent in the mother country at the time of their foundation, not experiencing the further evolution experienced in Europe. He considered Latin America and French Canada to be fragments of feudal Europe, the United States, English Canada, and Dutch South Africa to be liberal fragments, and Australia and English South Africa to be "radical" fragments (incorporating the non-Socialist working class radicalism of early 19th century Britain).[citation needed]


In 1956 the American Political Science Association awarded Hartz its Woodrow Wilson Prize for The Liberal Tradition in America, and in 1977 gave him its Lippincott Prize, designed to honor scholarly works of enduring importance. The book remains a key text in the political science graduate curriculum in American politics in universities today, in part because of the extensive, long-running criticism and commentary Hartz's ideas have generated.

Louis_Hartz Louis_Hartz
Old April 6th, 2016 #17
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American exceptionalism is similar to the attitude China adopted during the fifteenth century. The Chinese concluded that they were the Middle Kingdom, surrounded by barbarians from whom they had little of value to learn. Thus China cut herself off from countries she could have learned from.

This attitude led to stagnation in Chinese science and technology at the same time that the Renaissance in Europe was causing the West to become the most advanced civilization in the world.

The eventual outcome of Chinese exceptinalism is that during the nineteenth century the Chinese military lacked the weapons technology to defend China from European military aggression.

american exceptionalism, axis of evil, christianity is jewish, evangelicals, neoconservatism


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