Thursday, December 23, 2010

American Exceptionalism

This new Gallup poll shows that a large majority of American's agree that "that the United States has a unique character because of its history and Constitution that sets it apart from other nations as the greatest in the world."  The same poll shows that just 58% believe that President Obama agrees with the sentiment.

In 2009, President Obama was asked if he believed in American exceptionalism. He replied, 
"I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism." 

In fairness, Obama does go on, in the same reply, to state that he is "proud of my country and its role and history in the world."  The quote continues with nuanced language about partnerships and compromise and how the other nations of the world are also wonderful, etc.  He doesn't seem to understand what American exceptionalism is actually referring to.

Many, mostly on the left, conflate American exceptionalism with nationalism.  American exceptionalism is not based on national pride, but rather refers to the opinion that America was uniquely founded upon an idea.  It was designed by the founding fathers as a nation of laws, based on liberty and individualism.

Obama's relativism regarding American exceptionalism can be summed up with a quote from the movie "The Incredibles":
Helen: Everyone's special, Dash.
Dash: Which is another way of saying no one is.

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