Skip to main content

I wanted to put some thoughts down on this, since it has begun at least locally to become a major thrust of conversation... Has America lost its Exceptionalism?

Be wary,  that is a very general question, and the wisest answer so far to date, has been Rick Jensen's:  "Which definition of American Exceptionalism are we going to use?"

"If you define American Exceptionalism as Marilyn B. Young does i.e.: Liberals whose beliefs changed toward an exceptionalism that calls for imposing democracy worldwide, then, yes, the theory is likely. If the definition is Jay Lovestone's (as in Lovestone v Stalin), then most people would likely agree with American Exceptionalism as our natural resources, strength, and capitalism prevents communism from being overwhelmingly popular. If you choose de Tocqueville's original definition, then to deny American Exceptionalism is to deny the historical facts of a largely Puritanical population taking advantage of their opportunities to engage in commerce, worship as they choose, and live in a country whose government functions as a representation of the people, not of the ruling, royal class."
So all "Exceptionalism" arguments are circular, because we are comparing bananas with apples and oranges, to see they all are better than watermelons... (they aren't; watermelons rule; btw)
But,... what if we made up a new definition, one in which America was defined as being its people's right to self determination?.... Simply put, it steals from our Declaration of Independence and states along Jeffersonian lines, that people have the right to go in the direction in which they want.
If that becomes one's definition, then not only is our nation non-exceptional, but it is working hard to become as unexceptional as possible.

At the crux of this change, is the probably this facet:  Those rights and values that used to be held up as true for people, have now been usurped by big business, or multi-national corporations...

One could take it one step further, that at one time America was exceptional... With a wide open frontier growing faster than regulating authorities could keep up, best practices could evolve and become powerful, before the squelching counter-force of the status quo could take its effect....

In real life, we are facing the return of the status quo, as being defined as ruled by an elite, in all that has changed over the last 14 years.
 I would mark the tipping point (based on my viewing stand) as tipping in 2007... Other's may use different markers and put their finger before or afterwards, but the playing field has seriously changed based on Conservative principles which originally emerged out of the 1994 Gingrich neo-Conservative movement... Some of the changes occurred through their emphasis on lack of regulation, some through their pro-financial legislation, and some through their Conservative Court decisions...
But all have been enacted to embrace restraints and control over democracy, by those landed class having tremendous amounts of money at their disposal.  Ironically, for them to have the freedoms expressed in the Declaration of Independence, they must suppress yours....
What we are looking at transpiring over just the past few years, is a return to a ruling class, just like in early Ireland, where the subjects have no rights at all, and if any amenities are to be given, it is only to keep them alive to keep the profiteering economic engines continuing to spit out money for its owners...

A topic recently discussed here was Wal*mart and speculation that some corporate pressure would now be upcoming to re-invest a bit more of America's resources back into its food stamp program because one of its landed-gentry (the Waltons) was now foundering.. in other words, it is deemed to be good landed-gentry policy to put the boot into ones people, but only as far until one feels the effect applied to oneself, and then and only then, does the pressure get let off.

Under old American thinking, that never could have happened.  The majority would revolt through elections and the landed gentry would be forced to pull the idea off the table until another opportunity.
In arguments of this structure and magnitude the future use of adjectives such as "good" and "bad" to describe the two sides, is misleading.  For in any type of disagreement, one always sees oneself as representing the good they wish to represent, and the other with opposing belief, sees them as evil...

Therefore a more thorough distinction must be used.  Rich and poor is too general and too relative.  The most accurate definition I can think of how to delineate the two opposing parties, is that one employed by the Wall Street activists of the 1% versus the 99%...  That is such a convenient piece of language.   Realistically, of course the area between 90-99% would be full of people who had some fingers in some pies on both sides... And quite probably a more accurate delineation would be to draw the line at the 15% mark, at which a very clear line evolves between being either self-sufficient, or a supplicant...  But, for reference primarily due to its common use, it just makes sense to continue using the 1%--99% divide.  That polarization helps illuminate the major discrepancies and make arguing points for each side, .. much easier.  .

What we have seen since the century mark passed us with no Y2K disaster..... is the 1% making giant inroads into our government, our communications, our economy, and our employment....

Money can do that.

If one is wealthy, one can a) hire people to craft legislation,  b) pander it through Congress and state legislatures surreptitiously attached to campaign contributions, and c) hire scholars to invent and trumpet the advantages of each of those bills.   This creates a one-sided argument against which no one is immune...
Those too poor to pay cash, those too poor to take off work, those too tied down to drive down to Washington or one's state capital, have their side eclipsed.  The legislator could be one of the most benign to the principles of the Constitution, but if he is lied to and provided glowing accounts of how his vote will resonate glowingly among all voters, without a contrarian opinion, he is doing whatever they say.

Not to absolve their blame, but it is just as if you, saw me every day and said "how are things going" and I said "not so good", you'd feel concerned and want to help.  But on the other hand if you stood in a checkout line with a mom and two kids using WIC paper to get necessary nutrients, and asked... " how are things going",... their negative answer would roll off your back... Not because you are callous; but because you don't know them.  

Excessive wealth has insulated our Congress, in fact, I would go out on a limb and say it has insulated the entire DC belt-way.  They just don't know what average America goes through anymore.
When your most pressing problem is that you were invited to two important functions and have to figure out which of the two to snub and turn down, your prowess of representing your constituents is in question.... You have effectively been insulated from your constituent's priorities...  As long as big money is allowed to be involved, it will happen to all we send there.

Against this, one would think that our communications industry would be implored to exploit for its own power, the divide between the ruling high gentry and the peasants supporting them.  Truth was, it WAS that way once, post-WWII. Perhaps their healthily dislike of their government came from seeing up close and personal it's inefficiencies during the fog of WWII, but clear evaluations did indeed take place inside our major media over the McCarthy Hearings, Civil Rights, the Vietnam War, and Welfare and Poverty. People always got a perspective different from the official government's opinions.  And newspapers were far more partisan way back then, on both sides.

But big money bought them all. Big money owns them all.  Instead of competition, we have homogenization. with nothing ever wrong being pinned on big money.... We have arguments of why taxes need cut;  no one ever sees arguments of why they should be raised even though the paper receives 9 to 1 letters in favor of raising taxes... Our media no longer represents American thought;  it represents corporate mouthpieces,

as was recently evidenced by NBC in its competition over Nielsen ratings and getting the most "Likes" on Facebook, cutting away from the collapse of the USA to gargle over a troubled Justin Bieber ...
When the reality of events shows Big Money in its correct light, the media does everything to discount it.  Whereas the media was once considered a courageous fourth element of government, it is now the house slave, whose whole survival depends upon the whim of his master... When one questions the slave if his master is a nice man, one can certainly pre-guess the only response one will get....

So when a wealthy power grab bill comes up in Congress, every media outlet sugar coats it.  UMMM Sugar Rush!!!! There is some good, there is no bad.  The top wealth has quenched all argument.  Of course the arguments burn inside of us.  Our frustrations grow.  For we see the reality.  But as in Eastern Germany, we tend to keep it too ourselves, since we must assume we are the only ones, and thinking such is dangerous.....

Besides government and communications, big wealth has taken over our economy. When we sell low, they bought. They own everything.  When one owns everything, what is best for one, is not best for all others.  Hence, bundling securities in 2006-2007 which meant bundling very bad loans and selling them as very safe investments to all the world's governments, was partaken without anyone having the right to answer, ... "um did you say those were ... "bad loans?"  

The how to "how this happened", was that the very wealthy thorough their influence in Congress and through squelching all dissent in the media, were able to remove previous laws that required that risk to be disclosed.  There is a valid reason why such a deep crash never occurred in the interim between itself and the Great Depression.  It was illegal to do so.  But once pursuing those policies known to lead up to a great crash became unregulated and therefore legal,  guess what?  We got exactly the same result as when we tried it the last time....the 1920's.

Other economic factors are its result of Big Wealth's interference. Big wealth is the reason our college debt is too high.  Big wealth is the reason no new manufacturing investment is now taking place. Big wealth is the reason our government is cutting jobs instead of growing them.  Big Wealth is why your take home pay has gotten smaller, and now buys much less... Big Wealth is why Unions are less effective, being mostly illegal unless they apply by the tight rules Big Wealth has set for them...

But mostly all three of these came about by your fear of losing your job.  Big Wealth is your boss.  He may be your bosses' bosses' boss but Big Wealth controls you in your job.

 Don't believe me?  Just perform this test... Stand up in your next meeting and publicly say... "Occupy Wall Street was right about everything and dead on!...."
i'm not going to dare you to do so, because I already know the answer.  You can't say that, unless you don't care whether you work there or not.   "Freedom is just another word... for nothing left to loose"...  If you have nothing to lose, only then are you free to speak your mind.  If you stand to lose your job for doing so, face it, you are silent for that reason...  If you are afraid to speak your mind, then essentially all your freedom is gone.  Stripped away. It may exist on paper, but your freedom today is not guaranteed in any way.
Sad thing... is that it used to be.  In my lifetime, one could keep one's job and be a communist...  whatever.... Son, as long as you doing your work?  Then that's ok.
But today one can never say this at one's employment: "Of course I agree with Occupy Wall Street".  , for our jobs are full of spies. One cannot even jokingly rant it on Facebook, without being called in and interrogated and getting kicked out unceremoniously.  Our nation has lost its way.  Everything is controlled by the 1%."

Now I'm sure some people will take issue with this, and do their best to weave it into whatever they want to weave it into.. That's fine.  That is what the 1% is paying them to do and I am relatively confident that those people will stick out like sore thumbs for being the toadies they are: supplicants to the teats of excessive wealth.

If America is destined to go the way of all other past nations, then let it only speak in one voice and become a mouthpiece for its landed gentry, I can do nothing to stop it. All I can do is point out, that today, the America we have at our disposal, is no different than those of ancient empires, than those under Roman control,  than those of medieval warlords, then those of imperialistic Europe, then that of Hirohito, than that of Soviet Russia, or even that of our own Gilded Age, whose excesses led to the creation of the New Deal....

In fact,  I would go so far to stretch out on a limb that the current public perception of America's Exceptionalism, was founded  upon the structures first put in place by the New Deal...
I know that opens a theory up to a whole battery of counter-arguments, and most of them I have used myself to test out this hypothesis.
 But after all the dust has settled, I have still to admit (and you probably will too), that with historical analysis outweighing whatever theoretical arguments get dashed against it,  the New Deal worked for 70 years until we started taking it apart...
With it gone, we are not exceptional anymore. We are just the same as everyone else.  A 1% ruling over the 99% peasant class beneath them.... The same as King George's Great Britain. The same as Robespierre's France. The same as Caesar.  The same as Babylon's king... The same as the ancient Pharaoh....

None whose empires are still around today.  None today hold onto their power they once possessed.  With our expansionist opportunities now dimming, with the advent of a disturbingly stupid but powerful upper class, with our allowing them to usurp our edifices of democracy and force them to rule in their favor, not ours, America is now at a crossroads.  

We can either choose to become comfortable slaves, grateful for the shelter, food, and Super-Bowls thrown for our benefit, ... or we can choose to become the masters of our own destiny, and accept whatever that may befall.   The latter option worked best in our past.
The later option was the Golden time of American Exceptionalism from which we have now removed ourselves.....

Should we go back?  Or accept the incremental slavery slowly wrapping its tentacles around us?

If my words ring hollow, then our time has already passed.  If you feel the same, then time is short.
 It must change 2014, and in 2016 must make it even more clear...  After all, 2012 was writing on the wall...  America is only exceptional because its people are exceptional.  Its everyday simple people who wake up every morning and go to bed every night. That theme rolls through all the definitions of Exceptionalism listed above at this article's very beginning. But when those people no longer own their nation, our fate will be sealed... and it won't be pleasant....

Originally posted to kavips on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 05:27 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Definitely on of the best diaries I have ever read (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Don midwest, lunachickie, Mage11an

    Thank you

    •  Seriously (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bobdevo, lotlizard

      I can point to two administrations--each took a shot at America's kneecaps, one on the left and one on the right. Neither were aiming to be a hit man, but both succeeded spectacularly at maiming this country permanently. Between the two of them, they permanently damaged "American law and order" and "regulation", thereby committing her "exceptionalism" to the dustbin of history.

      One was, for all intents and purposes, a figurehead who was used and abused. The other was a serial user who was easily-compromised, allowing for all manner of "do this or else" scenarios.

      See if you can guess who they are.

      This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

      by lunachickie on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 06:23:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Jeremy Scahill - exceptionalism deep in culture (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lunachickie, peterfallow, lotlizard

    exceptionalism is buried so deep in the culture that he does not know what will end it

    this was an answer he gave to my question in a preview showing of his movie  

    his book "Dirty Wars" and the movie should be a major push to end exceptionalism by showing who we really are

    •  If a nation considers itself exceptional (5+ / 0-)

      which should be read as "superior", what is the difference between this and a particular race or ethnicity that considers itself exceptional (God's chosen") compared to others?

      I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

      by peterfallow on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 06:20:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think you're not quite (0+ / 0-)

        getting "exceptionalism" as preached by America Cheerleaders. It's a concept, not a reference to a race or ethnicity. It's built on idealism, period.

        This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

        by lunachickie on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 06:35:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Maybe I am missing something but for the rest (3+ / 0-)

          of the World, the interpretation is that Americans consider themselves superior to all other nations. I am aware that the concept is not based on race, but just as we call those who consider their race superior racists, those who consider their nation superior are nationalists.

          In English English, both of these terms are considered something requiring disapproval e.g.British Nationalist Party, or National Socialists in Germany.

          In a similar vein, I would guess those who shout loudest about American exceptionalism are the same who shout loudest about "illegal immigration"

          I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

          by peterfallow on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 07:23:31 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh, absolutely (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            peterfallow
            the interpretation is that Americans consider themselves superior to all other nations
            But please try to remember that once-proud mantra has been co-opted and turned into propaganda, used against the people here. The concept of American Exceptionalism in no way resembles what it was supposed to originally. And way too many of the people espousing it today have any idea what it really stands for--they're too busy letting the likes of FOX fill their heads with all manner of other propaganda as well.

            This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

            by lunachickie on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 07:30:18 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  No, I'd say that "race" is fundamental... (0+ / 0-)

          and if the non-exceptional races are able to "pass", "blend-in" and/or "assimilate", then your reference might work.

          You can't be exceptional and have to drink from a prescribed drinking fountain...

          Ugh. --UB.

          "Daddy, every time a bell rings, a Randian Libertaria­n picks up his Pan Am tickets for the Libertaria­n Paradise of West Dakota!"

          by unclebucky on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 04:27:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  The whole point is that exceptional in this (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib

        context does NOT mean superior. The phrase has often been misused to justify the worst American jingoism, but at heart the phrase simply means that America was outside the (up until then) normal course of history. It was neither "better" nor "worse", just different.

      •  Exactly. German exceptionalism was once (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peterfallow

        all the rage.

        Fiat justitia ruat caelum "Let justice be done though the heavens fall."

        by bobdevo on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 02:02:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  If America is "exceptional" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lunachickie, bobdevo

    what does that make the rest of us on this planet?

    I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

    by peterfallow on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 06:01:28 AM PST

    •  That's just it (0+ / 0-)

      she's no longer "exceptional"--if indeed she ever was.

      Idealistically, she certainly was, but that probably really ended during the war of 1812...

      This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

      by lunachickie on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 06:25:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Exceptionally obtuse... (0+ / 0-)

      and exceptionally lucky.  If the Native Americans had killed our forebears on sight . . . .

      Fiat justitia ruat caelum "Let justice be done though the heavens fall."

      by bobdevo on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 02:04:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Which Republican Plans To Explain This? (0+ / 0-)

      What I always think when I hear politicians talk about this is: I'd hate to have to be the one to explain "American exceptionalism" to the Almighty.

      I'll have more to say in my book, but I just wanted to get that off my chest.

  •  America could be exceptional if it could live (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Don midwest, lunachickie, houyhnhnm

    up to its ideals. For example, if an overwhelming majority could see its racial, ethnic, religious and sexual orientation diversity and tolerance regarding these things as its greatest strength.

    We have only just begun and none too soon.

    by global citizen on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 06:01:30 AM PST

  •  Top ten US aid recipients all practice torture (5+ / 0-)

    how is this for exceptionalism?

    Top ten US aid recipients all practice torture

  •  "American Exceptionalism" is a nasty jingoistic (7+ / 0-)

    phrase that should have been retired long ago. As the diary shows, it's impossible to come up with any useful definition that squares with the reality of American history.

    • What is exceptional about nearly wiping out the indigenous population, or maintaining slavery post-independence for almost 100 years and then providing a model for apartheid thereafter?
    • What aspect of our "exceptionalism" allowed us to be the only country to have dropped nuclear weapons on a population?
    • Will we be exceptional when we have a bigger prison population than China?

    America is not even close to living up to any ideals right now - and as long as Republicans keep winning power anywhere there seem to be more than enough Americans who clearly don't give a rats about the basic tenets of a liberal democracy.  I had hopes that the European Union, as a voluntary coming together of democratic societies, would offer a better model, but then we all witnessed Germany pulling up the drawbridge on Southern Europe, and were reminded of the spectre of Fascism in Greece.

    The fact is that all over the world there are many experiments in balancing the rights of individuals and communities, and mostly failed attempts to avoid the "tragedy of the commons". To put it in an American perspective - it would be like calling out Washington State as exceptional. As a Seattle resident I might like that - but I doubt  98% of Americans would agree.

    •  America is exceptional in supporting capitalism (0+ / 0-)

      to such an extent as to allow a relative few to own disproportional wealth to an extent never before seen in the history of mankind.

      85 people now own and control more of the world's wealth and resources than half the world's population (3.5 billion people).

      •  More inequality than in feudalism. Quite a feat. (0+ / 0-)

        After all, in feudal times, you had German-speaking Europe (the so-called Holy Roman Empire) consisting of a patchwork of independent actors and sovereign entities.

        http://www.hoeckmann.de/...

        Of course, "ownership" is a social construct. It takes enforcers using violent means to maintain "ownership" by those 85 persons, once populations decide to ignore it.

        Twelve million people in the U.S. ignored laws and borders to come here, and millions more support them. To that extent, the laws and borders are inoperative. What if twelve million people in the U.S. had, with the support of millions more, joined the Occupy movement and ignored the laws walling off Wall Street?

        The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

        by lotlizard on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 05:07:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  My experience with American "Exceptionalism" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Claudius Bombarnac

      I teach in an ELL (English language learners) hub. A large percentage of my students  are refugees. Some are from Cuba.  Others have come from Kenyan and Thai refugee camps.  I have been told how backward they are, over and over by various members of the refugee bureaucracy (including the local director of refugee services, who makes $100,000/year).  I am sure they are constantly reminded how lucky they are to be here and how grateful they ought to be  (shades of Lowood Institution).  

      Yet my experience is that, on the whole, they are generally better educated than native born students.

      That's my experience with American "exceptionalism" and it makes me want to vomit.

      Light is seen through a small hole.

      by houyhnhnm on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 09:10:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  To expand (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fenway49, lotlizard

    on my original comment upthread, mostly because I forgot to paste this quote in ;)

    I would mark the tipping point (based on my viewing stand) as tipping in 2007... Other's may use different markers and put their finger before or afterwards, but the playing field has seriously changed based on Conservative principles which originally emerged out of the 1994 Gingrich neo-Conservative movement
    Agree to an extent, but you've got to go back further to understand where that neo-Con movement was given legs. That shit grew up in 1981, with the ascension of Reaganomics.

    And Reagan's presidency was only possible because of the fallout from Watergate, IMO--some of those crooks were too careful to not get caught, while Gerald Ford either pardoned the rest of them or gave them a get out of jail free card for future use. Had that not happened, Reagan probably wouldn't have either. Or at least not two terms of him.

    This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

    by lunachickie on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 06:32:55 AM PST

    •  Agreed, lunachickie. Reagan's use of divide and (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lunachickie, lotlizard

      conquer tactics to get MI unionized manufacturing workers of the time to turn against the poor and make them and the ever growing minority inmate population the enemy resulted in that same population now seeing their senior years threatened with pension, SS, and Medicare cuts and/or losses as the party of Reagan marches on to enrich the already rich.  These were the Reagan Democrats, the beginning of the end of upward mobility, wage stagnation, and amped up reverence for military activity, the same stuff the vets of WWII wanted the country to avoid.

      This is a great diary, one I wish I could memorize because the analysis seems fair and accurate by my lights.

      Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

      by judyms9 on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 06:48:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That man (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lotlizard

        was poison to our country. What he did to unions is unforgivable, IMO. And yes, his showbiz background grew new legs on "divide and conquer" in the United States. My mother was fooled by this guy, and she was no dummy. After 9/11 she snapped out of it, but by then it was too little, too late.

        She was kind enough to admit it later on, too; she was never a wingnut GOP--she called herself a Reagan Democrat, which always pissed me off because she grew up during the Great Depression. I kept telling her she knew better. Ah, but where I get my stubborn-ness = not just from my daddy. This was one of the few disagreements I ever had with my mom, mostly we were pretty close.

        This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

        by lunachickie on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 07:17:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Our refusal to behave like European or Asian (0+ / 0-)

    Nations is what makes us the exception, thus the phrase. Obviously, this is not to say we don't make mistakes, but as a country, we are more than willing to embrace a path less worn.

    “Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.” Richard Nixon, 1977.

    by Kvetchnrelease on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 06:52:22 AM PST

    •  Utter Tripe (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Claudius Bombarnac, lotlizard
      we are more than willing to embrace a path less worn.
      You just scored a 10 on the Ignorant Bullshit Scale there matey boy.

      Some paths well worn you were somewhat late in leaving include:

      Slavery - carried on walking that path long after Europe had recognised it as full of weeds and pitfalls.

      Political Emancipation: Again, where Europe led you were slow to follow.

      Capital Punishment - still happily trotting down that path when Europe abandoned it long ago.

      and then of course there are ones you dont know the way to:

      Government run healthcare: - still not really got past the end of the drive on that one. Playing hopscotch in the yard doesn't count.  

      save the jingoistic hyperbole chum - it only works on GOP goobers whose closest brush with Old Europe is a bottle of French plonk.

      •  Yup, you so make my point, but that would escape (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lotlizard

        your old world thinking. Think Homestead Act. Think unconditional surrender then rebuilding after a war by Marshall plan vs armistice and reparations. Think democracy. Think dollar is world's currency. Now after some reflection, bow down to american exceptionalism and the concept our president Obama announces wherever and whenever he can, we are The Greatest Nation on Earth.

        “Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.” Richard Nixon, 1977.

        by Kvetchnrelease on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 08:26:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Homestead Act was a form of genocide (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lotlizard

          The Marshall Plan was a tool to spread capitalism and enrich American corporations. Democracy was supported only in so far as the previous two factors were accomplished.

          The dollar is the world's currency due to two factors, WWII and oil resources.

          we are The Greatest Nation on Earth.
          Utter tripe
  •  The term "American Exceptionalism" was (0+ / 0-)

    coined by Joseph Stalin as a snearing insult.

    We are not powerless!! "Activism is the rent I pay for living on this planet."– Alice Walker

    by nocynicism on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 07:45:51 AM PST

  •  What American Exceptionalism (0+ / 0-)

    should mean is that we take exception when others call us on our bullshit national hypocrisy about human rights, democracy and respect for individual privacy.

  •  American Exceptionalism... (0+ / 0-)

    should be understood in historical context and the way that context has been perverted by the political class. American Exceptionalism refers to the "exception to the rule" in historical development. World historical eras were radically compressed in North American history, yielding an exception to the rule. Specific economic, social, and political developments were a function of specific historical contexts. Specific historical contexts yielded specific historical development.

    The problem is the ahistorical thinking of people like Bush and Cheney et al. For example, the notion that the American System can be transplanted in a place like Iraq because, as Cheney and others argued, it is self-evidently the best system and people around the globe will embrace it if given a chance. This is deeply flawed historical thinking and betrays a fundamental lack of historical imagination. The American system stood, for example, on the shoulders of English Common Law. The Iraqi system stood on the shoulders of tribal, regional, and sectarian division. Context is everything.

    In my opinion the term American Exceptionalism is an historical category, not a useful political ideal.

    Is that a real poncho, or is that a Sears' poncho? - Frank Zappa

    by JoesGarage on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 08:15:18 AM PST

  •  Good and Bad (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PlinytheWelder, liz

    Brits find jingoistic expressions like Exceptionalism leave a somewhat nasty taste in the mouth. Two world wars cured us of those delusions of grandeur. Now we leave such nonsense to scrofulous scum like the English Defence League and the occasional Teabagger like Conservative Party and UKIP idiots.

    America has at least one exceptional quality, or achievement, you should all be rightly proud of and shout from the rooftops - your space program that put men on the Moon over and over again. That inspired a whole generation around the world - I was one of those.

    Whilst in a way that now carries on through the work of NASA and programs like Curiosity and the planetary explorer satellites, its also a bit of a shame that the US decided at the end of the Cold War to abandon all real funding of NASA and instead find new and interesting bang sticks and boom rockets and remote control death toys to fund instead.

    Then of course theres the bad stuff you are exceptional for - dropping nukes twice, running little offshore gulags in the Caribbean, torture, capital punishment, poor education standards, a lack of a government run universal healthcare system, guns a go go, out of control police, a totally unacceptable level of spying.... and clinging on to pathetic bronze age snuff porn religion like a comfort blanket.

    How about you drop the self appointed role as world police and get back to being the world's astronauts?

    Much cooler.

    chin chin!

    •  Truly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peregrine kate
      America has at least one exceptional quality, or achievement, you should all be rightly proud of and shout from the rooftops - your space program that put men on the Moon over and over again. That inspired a whole generation around the world - I was one of those.
      Truly that is one achievement we can call exceptional, even though our space program for the longest time was second best. Once we redefined the goal as going to the moon did we come out as exceptional. Otherwise just about every significant milestone to that point went to the Soviet union.

      First Artificial satellite - ussr
      First animal to orbit - ussr
      First man in orbit - ussr
      First woman in orbit - ussr
      First spacewalk - ussr
      Longest spacewalk - ussr
      First docking in space - ussr
      First space station - ussr
      Longest time logged in space - ussr

      If it were not for the cold war and our desire to show the godless commies we could do it better, I doubt we would have ever gone to the moon. Neil DeGrasse Tyson makes an excellent argument about this in his book Space Chronicles.

      Back on topic, the phrase American Exceptionalism pretty much gives me hives. As a nation our policies are hypocritical in the extreme, exceptionalist proponents tend to think of the US as some great moral giant, the hero with a white hat standing at the mountain top, when in fact it is not hard at all to see that we are nothing of the sort, neither foreign or domestically.

      Honesty may be the best policy, but it's important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy.

      by fauxrs on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 04:05:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  USA! USA! USA??? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    liz, melo

    The USA is #1

    1)  USA is #1 in the World in Capital Punishment;
    2)  USA is #1 in the World in Incarceration Rates;
    3)  USA is #1 in the World in Military Expenditures;

    USA is Exceptional in claiming to be Exceptional while denying Healthcare, Education, Employment and Living Wages to a large percentage of its population.

    There is a lot of work to be done and it is time for the USA to get started.

    My wife, daughter and granddaughters should have more privacy in their doctor's office than I have buying another rifle or shotgun.

    by NM Ray on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 12:15:07 PM PST

  •  American Exceptionalism (0+ / 0-)

    Is really not very different from English exceptionalism or or Roman exceptionalism

  •  The concept is delusional narcissism. n/t (0+ / 0-)

    Fiat justitia ruat caelum "Let justice be done though the heavens fall."

    by bobdevo on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 02:01:45 PM PST

  •  Being exceptional is not sustainable... (0+ / 0-)

    Every "exceptional" moment in human history had to be paid for by years or centuries of backwater existence.

    Look at any exceptional moment/epoch. After, there comes the payback.

    I'd rather NOT be exceptional but rather have some guarantee that if my community plans for the future and does not go wild with "credit" that I can expect more of the same rather than something unacceptably different.

    Now, of course, both exceptionalism and something unacceptably different can happen TO a community, thrust onto it from the outside.

    In our neighbourhoods and small towns, this is exactly what happened to us.

    We really should push back against the 1%ers who bring exceptionalism at the cost of rot and ruin later.

    Ugh. --UB.

    "Daddy, every time a bell rings, a Randian Libertaria­n picks up his Pan Am tickets for the Libertaria­n Paradise of West Dakota!"

    by unclebucky on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 04:16:27 PM PST

  •  There's a high degree of mythology in this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peregrine kate, melo

    When someone like Obama says "only in America could my story (Obama's) be possible" that sounds good to Americans.  But in Canada (as in many other countries in the developed world) I'm thinking no, that could happen in Canada too.  Our previous Governor General (our head of state) came to Canada as a Haitian refugee. She was also a woman.  There's lots of stories like that not only in Canada but in many countries.
    The other problem with believing you're exceptional is that you will never learn from anyone else.  Why should you?  You're exceptional.

  •  Deja vu? (0+ / 0-)

    Perhaps revisit the response from Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) to the question "Why is America the greatest country on earth?" from The Newsroom pilot.

    "We're the only country that keeps telling the other countries how great we are, and after a while that gets a little f*cking obnoxious! - Lewis Black

  •  As the term is commonly understood . . . (0+ / 0-)

    American "exceptionalism" rests on the conceit the U.S.A. is such a uniquely righteous, chosen & great country that it need not feel bound in international relations by the rules that other countries are expected to observe; & that the U.S.A., uniquely among the countries of the world, has a right to launch war at any time & place of its choosing, on any pretext or no pretext at all.

  •  exceptional (0+ / 0-)

    One way I think we really are rather special is that the national ideals - the glue that is American culture - arose from the discussion of ideas. Just about every other nation's fabric is a culture; a web of customs and stories.  Sure, we too have our customs and stories, but the CORE for America is a process of rational thought. This is because we are children of the enlightenment.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site