TIME FOR AMERICA TO JOIN THE WORLD
BY DON MUNKERUD"America is an exceptional country."
-- Sarah Palin
"I do believe in American exceptionalism."
-- John McCain
When I return from a trip abroad, my friends invariably want to know how people elsewhere view America. It's different from how we view ourselves.
What's called "American exceptionalism" claims there is something inherently unique and different about America because we were a younger nation 200 years ago. We are more religious than others, separated from the world due to two oceans, are richer and practice an unusual form of democracy.
"American exceptionalism" believes that our behavior isn't determined by ordinary rules, morals or judgments that determine the behavior of other counties and people.
Often this notion of exceptionalism manifests itself in a nationalistic love of country, expressed in bumper stickers that read, "God Bless America," "Proud to be an American," "Support Our Troops," and "These Colors Never Fade," which display an American flag invariably bleached white by the sun. The true nature of these themes go a step farther to reveal an uglier underlying sentiment: "And Just Why in the Hell Do I Have to Press 1 for English," "Support our Troops: Shoot the Media," and "America: Bailing out our critics since WWI."
First used by Alexis de Tocqueville, a Frenchman who visited the U.S. in the early 1830s, American "exceptionalism" now has a long history that derives from the United States' "special role" in the world. Basic concepts developed through historic claims such as Manifest Destiny, the U.S. destiny to rule the continent; "Speak softly and carry a big stick," Theodore Roosevelt's policy of threatening European powers who might intervene in South America; and the "American Dream," the entitlement of every American to own a house and become wealthy or at least well off.
The U.S. is an exceptionally arrogant bully on the world stage today. Voting for McCain and Palin will only perpetuate this kind of exceptionalism; with Obama, it might begin to change.More of Mr. Monkerud's comments at the link.