American exceptionalism is an American theory that the United States occupies a special role among the nations of the world in terms of its national ethos, political and religious institutions, and it’s being built by immigrants. Even though its origins date back to the 1600’s the concept still lives on today. This mode of thinking is what has damaged our reputation throughout the world. The concept that we are better than all other nations because as Alexis de Tocqueville, argued; the United States held a special place among nations because it was the first working representative democracy. We may have been the first but we were not the last. I am sure there are some out there who could have a valid argument how a later form of democracy trumps ours. Belief in American exceptionalism is more characteristic of conservatives than liberals. Which being liberal to me makes the idea seem even worse.

Parts of American exceptionalism can be traced to American puritan roots who believed in divine providence. They believed God had made a covenant with their people and had chosen them to lead the other nations of the world. The scary thing is; there are those republicans out there who still believe such a thing.  If we take a look at the Latin phrase on the back of the great seal and our one dollar bill it reads “novus ordo seclorum” which translates as “New Order of the Ages.” I think our republican leaders at that time and still to today would want nothing more than to spread their form of “order” to the entire world, and become the nation God has chosen to lead the world.  

Proponents of American exceptionalism argue that the United States is exceptional in that it was founded on a set of republican ideals, rather than on a common heritage, ethnicity, or ruling elite. In the formulation of President Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address, America is a nation “conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal”. In this view, America is inextricably connected with liberty and equality. We may be connected with liberty (although this may be up for debate) and equality (also up for debate.) The notion of republican ideals against the ruling elite? Isn’t that a bit oxymoronic?

The United States’ policies have been characterized since their inception by a system of federalism and checks and balances, which were designed to prevent any person, faction, region, or government organ from becoming too powerful. Some Proponents of the theory of American exceptionalism argue that this system and the accompanying distrust of concentrated power prevent the United States from suffering a “tyranny of the majority.” What I find interesting is we are protected from the “tyranny” of the majority, but we do nothing to protect us from the “tyranny” of the minority.

All countries probably believe they are exceptional in their own right. Britain at the height of the British Empire, Nazi Germany, as well as the communist state Russia, and France in the wake of the French revolution all demonstrated exceptionalism in terms of systematically engaging in what they considered benevolent enterprises. I believe although broken America is one of the greatest nations in the world. Do I believe we should feel superior over all other nations because we are what we are? No. We are not the judges and jury’s to the world. The belief and ideals we have are fantastic, but are these ideals better than say Norway’s? We could look at Norway or Iceland and say they are exceptional over us because of their low crime rates and penchant for staying away from wars. Does this make them better than us? In my eyes it does, but I cannot speak for a nation of people, nor should anybody else. It is fantastic to have pride in your country, but this pride should not stir up supremacism. I have always believed America should keep to herself. Trying to find nations we believe should be a democracy then enforce said beliefs by military force is wrong anyway you look at it. This concept that America is exceptional above all other nations is the exact way of thinking that caused other nations to hate us.

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Comments
  1. johanna says:

    This isn’t related to your p0st but I’ve been reading alot lately about how psychiatric drugs can alter your brain function forever and make you more likely to have more problems later on. Specifically, benzo’s are notorious for being almost impossible to wean off of. Perhaps all the meds you are on are making you sicker. Check out the site icarusproject.net. If you consider stopping meds, you must do it gradually (sometimes it takes a year or more) under a physician’s supervision. Withdrawl symptoms are very serious because the meds have altered your actual brain chemistry.The brain will try to reset itself but the longer you have been on meds and the amount you are on will determine how long it will take you to wean off of them. What do you think? I’m thinking of going off of mine. The dr.s are not extremely helpful so you have to really do your research first. There is a book written called “Mad in America” and the author wrote another book called “Anatomy of an Epidemic” that is very good also.

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      Johanna,

      I had a pretty cripling addiction with benzo’s they are pretty nasty. When I needed to come off of them the dr recommended I enter a detox center to watch me, but chose instead to do at home but following his advice of weaning off. I am taking Neurontin for anxiety now, and I must say this is by far more addicting than ativan and klonipin, but without the benefits. I have tried going off my meds before and I did very well until I compleatly lost it. I question what life would be like without the assistence of my many little pills

  2. tinadot says:

    Enjoyed reading the post….I think that America is one of the PRESENT great nations of the world….with things being fleeting and if you think about it in the grand scheme of things the States has been around for a couple hundred years and if it were obliterated today it’s entire existence would be possibly inconsequential 1,000 years from now…

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      Tina,
      Very true. In the grand scheme of history we are but a blip on the map of time. I feel this nation got off to a great start, but has been going downhill for the last 30 some years

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