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Does the new generation - and U.S. wars - undermine U.S. "Exceptionalism" (If it ever existed!) ?

Has the concept of American Exceptionalism (if it ever existed) run its course?

Peter Beinhart posts an interesting analysis in NATIONAL JOURNAL suggesting Religious Right conservatives inadvertently triggered a backlash among the young against organized Christianity which became identified, in fact inseparable, from right-wing politics in general; and President Bush's wars - along with W's exceptionalist vision of the United States as a country with unique burdens which could ignore the pleas of other countries, even ostensible allies - drew revulsion from the young. And a country with higher inequality = lower social/economic mobility. Plus, the younger generation is more multi-racial, and non-white younger people were less likely to embrace the concept of exceptionalism to begin with...

Translation: Given the make-up of Congressional districts, while Republicans may increase their numbers in the U.S. House of Representatives, and possibly retake the Senate, Republican hopes of retaking the White House in 2016 would seem to be distant... unless (a). They can depress the turn-out by younger voters, which, in the end, could make the Republican brand politically even more toxic, and/or (b). Find a libertarian-type candidate who could dispose of a lot of Republican exceptionalist baggage for the general election campaign.

(I know, I know, reading these words you're thinking of Rand Paul in this context. Problem: Although he might connect with the young on foreign policy, his rigidity on economics and social policy could still cost him the votes of younger Americans who don't celebrate the glories of "free markets"...)

I would add these nails into the coffin of American exceptionalism:

* The exodus of well-educated, exceptional immigrants from America back to their home countries: Greater opportunities; more respect for academic achievement; escape from the anti-immigrant fervor in the U.S., which crudely may not differentiate between "legals" and "illegals"...

* The paradox of U.S. foreign aid: Generous U.S. foreign aid was taken as an example of American "exceptionalism" (and bashed at the same time), when - in fact - as a proportion of U.S. GNP, the United States has never given as high a proportion of international aid as some other countries, notably, the Nordic countries. Plus, our aid often comes with strings attached.


From NATIONAL JOURNAL on line:


http://www.nationaljournal.com/magazine/the-end-of-american-exceptionalism-20140203

Posted at 8:23am on February 3, 2014 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

EarlGrey
Mon, Feb 3, 2014 8:52am
The Millennials are also sick and tired of Big Brother (Big Sis) spying on them; that is one issue that unites most in this generation. Rand Paul has been a very vocal opponent of N.S.A. spying on every American's phone and e-mail (almost ALL Millennials are melded to their phones/I-pads/tablets)... like part of their bodies/minds, so the thought of the government watching them has not gone over well. When "they" are even watching your Angry Birds app...well, now they have just gone too far (and yes "they" are even watching this post).

IF the Republicans can get a Rand Paul (or any other SMALL Government candidate) to run, I think that they could run against Hillary as the pro-BIG Government/pro-N.S.A. candidate and win... but, how smart is the G.O.P. really? They are taking on Immigration as the 2014 elections are right around the political corner.

EarlGrey
Mon, Feb 3, 2014 9:00am
And, I agree with Beinhart's opinion that the Religious Right movement has turned many (not just the youth) from the Republican party and Christianity.

Not all Republicans are Christian and not all Democrats (and Libertarians) are atheists... but, God loves them all.

rjensen
Mon, Feb 3, 2014 9:26am
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, how do YOU choose to define "American Exceptionalism?"

I take the original albeit "snarky" Alexis de Tocqueville definition.

It's also interesting how Communists used the phrase as disparagingly in the 1930's as liberals do today.


kavips
Mon, Feb 3, 2014 12:33pm
If you define American Exceptionalism as Marylin Monroe, it died in 1962.

mrpizza
Mon, Feb 3, 2014 7:15pm
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. - Proverbs 14:34

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked rule, the people mourn. - Proverbs 29:2


billsmith
Mon, Feb 3, 2014 7:19pm
"It's not the greatest country in the world...
"You're going to tell (people) that America is so star-spangled awesome that we're the only ones in the world who have freedom? Canada has freedom, Japan has freedom, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, BELGIUM has freedom! Two hundred and seven sovereign states in the world, like 180 of them have freedom. ...
"There is absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we're the greatest country in the world. We're seventh in literacy, twenty-seventh in math, twenty-second in science, forty-ninth in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force, and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies." - Aaron Sorkin

The major sign this country is screwed: Tea baggers and Bible thumpers who let wing-nut talk show hosts do their thinking for them, wing-nut talk show hosts whose mission is to "stir up the crazies" for the benefit of the corporate elite.

mrpizza
Mon, Feb 3, 2014 8:26pm
Once again Bill, you have it backwards. It's us Tea baggers and Bible thumpers who tell the wing-nut talk show hosts what to say on our behalf.

mrpizza
Tue, Feb 4, 2014 4:25am
The following is a shining example of why America is still the most exceptional nation on earth:

http://www.weather.com/news/agriculture/tribute-memorial-farmer-who-passed-away-20140121

EarlGrey
Tue, Feb 4, 2014 8:55am
"There is absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we're the greatest country in the world. We're seventh in literacy, twenty-seventh in math, twenty-second in science, forty-ninth in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force, and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies." - Aaron Sorkin

bill: WWJBD?
(What would Josiah Bartlet do) to improve the many ills of our nation?

kavips
Tue, Feb 4, 2014 9:08am
No. This is the shining example of why America is still the most exceptional nation on earth:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrvcnbSoz-c

EarlGrey
Tue, Feb 4, 2014 9:09am
Rather than tossing more money at failing schools... maybe we need to replace Arne Duncan with someone who will turn our schools back to a place where children are taught the basics (reading, writing, and arithmetic) with true standards (definitely not Common Core curriculum) for starters.

Next, would be to reward great teachers with higher pay and rewards rather than "weeding out" the low-performing teachers... eventually the low-performers quit because most of them really never wanted to be teachers in the first place.

Make these two changes and many of the other problems our American students face could place them back onto the road to "Exceptionalism"... Common Core is NOT the right direction to create anything exceptional... Instead, C.C. leads our country towards the new era of American Mediocrity?

billsmith
Tue, Feb 4, 2014 10:06am
Earl: The guy did such a lousy job as a father, I'm not sure his opinion carries much weight.

All these baby boomer (and older) Tea Baggers, Bible thumpers and Dittoheads went though the school system before No Child Left Behind and Common Core, and look at what idiots they are. What we need to do is stop wasting time and money trying make dummies smart. Back to tracking. Back to commercial and vocational training, and memorization and rote learning of basic skills, for most of the student population who will never do college work and have no interest in doing college work.

EarlGrey
Tue, Feb 4, 2014 10:35am
"The guy did such a lousy job as a father, I'm not sure his opinion carries much weight.

Which guy? Arne Duncan, Aaron Sorkin, President Josiah Bartlet?

Back to commercial and vocational training, and memorization and rote learning of basic skills, for most of the student population who will never do college work and have no interest in doing college work.

I agree this should definitely be an option for many students. Teach them at least the basics...currently, many can neither read nor perform simple addition upon graduation, if they graduate at all.

billsmith
Tue, Feb 4, 2014 1:18pm
Bartlet, father of Charlie Sheen.

EarlGrey
Tue, Feb 4, 2014 3:49pm
bill: Bartlet is the fictitious presidential character on the West Wing played by Martin Sheen. The actual Martin Sheen (Ramon Antonio Gerardo Estevez) is the nutty real-life father of Charlie Sheen and Amelio Estevez. (The nuts didn't fall very far from the tree)

You quoted Aaron Sorkin, so I thought maybe you were a big fan of President Bartlet.

billsmith
Tue, Feb 4, 2014 6:52pm
Earl: The quote is from the first episode of The Newsroom. I did not watch The West Wing. I did watch Sports Night and most of the movies Sorkin has written. I think the Newsroom quote sums up the current state of this country very well. No longer being the ultimate super power is not the end of the world. The Brits seem to be doing just fine. Being a super power is expensive (see the defense budget) and countries which are not super powers can spend money on things which benefit their people and/or cut taxes.
Because of the US obsession with military spending, the US lags in education, health and quality of life measures.

mrpizza
Tue, Feb 4, 2014 8:15pm
Kavips: I'll go halfway with you on your shining example. The established language in this country is English, and it's time these foreigners get rid of their hyphenations and either become Americans or go back to whatever hyphenated country they came from.

If you want to live in America, then become an American.

billsmith
Wed, Feb 5, 2014 4:43am
Pizza: Agreed! When did assimilation become a dirty word? When did group identity become more important than individualism? When did the past become more important than the present or future? There was a time when immigrants, at least those above a certain age, had trouble with English. At least they tried to function in it out in public. And most of all, they wanted their kids to learn English and to become part of the mainstream culture.

The difference is once people came for a better life (however they defined that). Now they come for more money. Once people never expected (even wanted)to go back. Now they expect to make a few bucks and go home. A lot of immigrants are just visiting.

And whoever came up with idiotic idea of dual citizenship? Pick one or the other and stick with it.

Mike from Delaware
Wed, Feb 5, 2014 8:25am
Billsmith: I couldn't agree more. Excellent points.

mrpizza
Wed, Feb 5, 2014 7:55pm
Thanks, Bill and Mike, for recognizing the insanity of multi-culturalism.


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