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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.

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