Many Republicans and Tea Party groups are of the misguided opinion that America has the right to do whatever it chooses in the world and that the choices it does make are perfect. Although America is a great country and one of the world’s super-powers, it does not always make the right decisions and is not exceptional. The phrase “American exceptionalism” is thrown around continuously by conservatives who believe that America is without fault, and it leads to discriminatory policies abroad and here at home.
America’s standing in the world is waning, and it can be blamed on its imperialistic policy of preemptive wars, regime change, and unwarranted feelings of superiority. After the terror attacks on 9/11, America enjoyed nearly universal support from every country in the world, but the policies of George W. Bush eroded that support to the point that America became hated by its allies as well as its enemies.
Those who claim American exceptionalism are deluded to think that anything America does is good, and their belief that the entire world should bow down and worship the United States regardless the destruction and damage we cause is completely wrong. At least President Obama has improved America’s standing in the world by admitting we have made mistakes, but it brought nothing but criticism from pundits and politicians on the right who derided him for not claiming our superiority.
So the question must be; just exactly how are we superior or exceptional? If we are discussing military might, then yes, America is superior. We spend more on defense than all other industrialized countries combined, including our allies, and we have military bases in more countries than any other nation. It is worth noting that part of the reason there is suspicion and hard feelings toward America is our military presence and inclination to bomb first and ask questions later. Having a superior military is good for our national defense, but our military is not purely for defense, and coupled with the American exceptionalism meme, is a cause for mistrust and in many instances, hatred.
Here at home we are not so exceptional, and in most cases, are far behind the rest of the world. America’s infrastructure is crumbling and compared to industrialized countries, we are falling behind in every aspect. The highway system in this country is woefully inadequate and in disrepair to the point that in many cities, they automatically pay repair claims for broken suspension on cars that cannot avoid the potholes. Although repairing the country’s infrastructure would create millions of jobs, Republicans block legislation to fund infrastructure repairs.
America’s mass transit system is non-existent, and in the major metropolitan areas where there is mass transit, it is behind the times with no relief or improvement in sight. America has not had any significant infrastructure improvements in recent memory. In fact, it was during the Eisenhower era that the Interstate Highway system was built and the tax rate for the wealthiest Americans was approximately 90%. During that time, the middle class was created and even with high tax rates for the wealthy, rich people got much richer.
If America is exceptional, why is our health care system ranked 37th in the world, and why is the mortality rate among infants so high? Americans are fatter, sicker, and less emotionally stable than most other industrialized countries in spite of being so well off. America is exceptional in that many in the population don’t believe every citizen deserves affordable health care. Only in America is decent health care considered a privilege instead of a right, and if that makes America exceptional, we are worse off than it seems. The ideas and policies that made America exceptional through the years were the product of liberal and progressive minds.
There are myriad reasons why America is not exceptional, and it boils down to one problem; conservatives. Republicans have made it their life’s work to champion corporatism and breaks for the rich, while ignoring or rejecting programs that would make America competitive in the race for decency. It doesn’t matter what issue comes up, if it doesn’t favor and enrich corporations or the rich, conservatives are against it.
In that sense, America is exceptional. Exceptional for placing the welfare of the wealthy and corporations ahead of the people and it is never more evident than now. It is well-known that Americans are poorer, unhealthy, and hopeless because Republicans refuse to work for their interests.
There are Republicans who are against the tax cut deal President Obama brokered with Republican leaders because they want the wealthy tax cuts made permanent and they hate the fact that unemployment benefits were extended. America is not exceptional; Republicans are exceptional for their contempt for voters, minorities, LGBT, and the poor. They are also exceptional for claiming to support the troops but refusing to aid them after their service.
Around the world people who used to claim America was the land of opportunity and a great place to prosper are in the minority because of the information age. However, there is more ridicule about America’s greatness because of the rise of bizarre personalities and fake news organizations that are little more than third rate entertainers who are most responsible for pushing the American exceptionalism meme.
America’s days as the leading superpower are numbered because Republicans and conservatives in general have gutted the middle class and handed the reins of power to corporations. As the country falls farther behind the rest of the world in every category except military might, what was exceptional about America is now a national embarrassment and conservatives are to blame. The Republican Party will go down in history as being exceptional in their ability to destroy the country with the most powerful military in history. Exceptional indeed!
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.