The term Manifest Destiny, the belief in an American "mission" to promote and defend democracy throughout the world, was first used by Jacksonian Democrats in the 1840s. It probably arose out of the idealism that accompanied the leaving of the old, rigid order in Europe and the vibrant if bloody settling of the New World. It was revived in the 1890s to justify U.S. expansionism outside of North America.
Manifest Destiny was based upon an unshakable belief in the virtue of the American people and their institutions; the belief that America had a mission to spread these institutions and improve the world by remaking it in the image of the U.S.; and that God blessed this destiny. President Abraham Lincoln’s description of the United States in 1862 as "the last, best hope of Earth" is a well-known expression of this belief (one that would seem to have been at odds with the grim reality of the American Civil War).
In 1904, under President Roosevelt, the role of the United States was redefined as being an "international police power" to secure American interests in the Western Hemisphere. Expansionism was replaced by interventionism as a means of upholding the Manifest Destiny doctrine.
President Woodrow Wilson continued the policy of interventionism and led the United States into World War I with the argument that "The world must be made safe for democracy."
In his 1920 message to Congress after the war, Wilson stated: "This is the time of all others when Democracy should prove its purity and its spiritual power to prevail. It is surely the manifest destiny of the United States to lead in the attempt to make this spirit prevail." Note the use of the word ‘make’.
This U.S. vision of itself as the leader of the "free world" grew stronger after World War II though it was rarely described as "Manifest Destiny." However, the term is still used by the political left and by critics of U.S. foreign policy to characterize interventions in the Middle East and elsewhere. In this usage, Manifest Destiny is interpreted as the underlying cause of what is perceived as "American imperialism" and, of late, a return to expansionism (my thanks to Wiki for aspects of this summary).
Looking at America today it’s hard to see that its Manifest Destiny has been realized. America is the most hated and feared country in the world. It is a country that embraces torture and is associated with Abu Graib and Guantanamo Bay. It is currently involved in large scale invasions and occupations as well as destroying its own Constitution and taking away the rights of its own people. Its political system (as seen in evidence during the Presidential elections) could fairly be viewed as a farce. Far from spreading democracy, it supports rogue nations like Israel and all manner of countries where despots and Kings reign supreme.
It has poor health care while it spends more money on armaments than the rest of the world combined. It has an intellectually-challenged President that rides roughshod over the Congress and the Senate and has a government that is run by Big Business , Religious Fundamentalists and Neocons. It has a huge gap between the rich and the poor and racial conflicts simmer...
I don’t think that any country would want to model themselves on America or have American institutions or American attitudes thrust upon them (see Iraq). Its idealistic, well-intentioned Manifest Destiny has become a mockery, a grotesque parody.
Sadly, Manifest Destiny has not become a self-fulfilling prophecy for America. Quite the opposite in fact!
In fact, America needs rescuing from itself.