American Exceptionalism QUESTION

What do YOU think American exceptionalism is?


As you may know, I get information from entities of many political stripes. I think it’s healthy to get multiple points of view. Every once in a while, I might even agree with an unlikely source. Don’t remember the particulars anymore, but Mike Huckabee said something in the populist/”COMPASSIONATE conservative” bent during the 2008 campaign that I didn’t dispute.

Anyway, I got this thing from Newt Gingrich, and it reads as follows:

The most important question in American politics today is whether America is an exceptional nation. This is the core question behind every debate we are having about how to solve our country’s most pressing challenges.
If America is a unique nation founded upon self-evident truths about the rights of man, then that belief imposes inherent limits on the size and scope of government.
If, however, America is a normal country, no different than our European cousins, then big government socialism that takes power from citizens and gives it to bureaucrats is acceptable.
We believe in American Exceptionalism – in creator endowed rights, limited government, and a responsible, self-sufficient American people. That’s why we have undertaken a major investment of time and effort in focusing every American on our history and our remarkable culture.

In another e-mail, Gingrich says that his “inspirational new book, A Nation Like No Other: Why American Exceptionalism Matters,” in which “Gingrich lays out a powerful defense for America as the Founders intended it” and “explains exactly what American Exceptionalism is (a set of core values reflected in our Declaration of Independence) and what it is not (nationalist hubris).”

Meanwhile, a recent Pew poll suggests that more Americans think that the U.S. is one of the greatest countries in the world than say it stands above all other countries.

So I ask you:

What do YOU think American exceptionalism is? Is it our founding declaration of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Is it that America, alone among the nations, is beloved of God? Is it the experiment that created a Bill of Rights? Is it the vast natural resources of a country this large? Is it jingoism? Is it “the last best hope for a mankind plagued by tyranny and deprivation,” as Reagan put it?

I ask because I don’t know. The term has become so fraught with political intrigue that it’s muddied the waters for me.

I once joked that American exceptionalism meant that we could take exception to soccer, the metric system, and single-payer health care.

All insights are welcome, from within and without the country.