What we believe: American Exceptionalism

Posted by: Phineas on November 27, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Bill Whittle concludes his series on what American conservatives believe with a look at a hard-to-define concept: that America and the American people are exceptional among the nations of the Earth:

Whittle talks about four measures that illustrate this exceptionalism: military, scientific, economic, and cultural dominance. With just 5% of the world’s population, for example, we produce 24% of the Earth’s GDP.

But these are just external signs of the internal qualities that make the United States and her people exceptional; behind them all stand the ideas that create the conditions for the success measured by Whittle’s four yardsticks. Among them are limited government, the idea that humans can rule themselves and that government needs only a few powers; free markets and private property, connecting effort with reward and aligning private interest with public good; and the rule of law, applied equally to all without regard for wealth, religion or ethnicity. Whittle touches on these at the end and, through them, ties his whole series together.

Of course, these ideas are ideals, things to strive for, even though we often fall short. And America itself is an ideal, Winthrop’s “shining city upon a  hill,” meant to inspire us and the world, even if the reality is often blemished. Yes, tThe same nation that proclaimed all Men are created equal and endowed with unalienable rights also held millions in slavery. But it was the ideal of America that demanded they be set free even at the cost of a devastating civil war and that the struggle continue for another hundred years, until the neo-slavery of Jim Crow was torn down.

And it is in that overriding ideal of America that American conservatives believe.

LINKS: Ed Morrissey is also impressed.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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3 Responses to “What we believe: American Exceptionalism”


  1. Carlos says:

    It’s exceptional only to ignorant pee-ons like us, Phineas.

    But when you’re so brilliant the sun doesn’t come up without permission, as our dearly beloved leader is, you know there’s nothing exceptional about this country except its ability to turn everything into evil.

    Except when they’re finally smart enough to elect him (not someone like him, it had to be him).

  2. Jo says:

    He sees us, ironically, only exceptional in our ‘arrogance’ and in great need of being taken down to the level of all other nations–and look around right now. Which of those other nations are prospering and have no major problems? He wants us to be nothing more than a Liberal Progressive Socialist state ruled by a dictator and his lackeys and he sees himself in that role. Most unfortunately, if someone truly exceptional does not rise to oppose him, he will be granted his fondest wish and his puppet masters will have a heyday as they watch what was once the Shining City on the Hill crumble into dust and disarray. The weight of it is devastatingly depressing.

  3. Paul says:

    As a nation we have to keep the bar set high and propagate excellence not mediocrity….The folks in power now want everyone to be the same and to follow “the party line”. A pox on that philosophy !!