As a relatively young nation, America has made great strides as a world financial and military power, and since the middle of the 20th century, became truly exceptional because any citizen willing to study, work hard, and persevere could achieve a decent standard of living as part of the great middle class. Republicans are fond of touting America’s exceptionalism even though their policies during the Bush administration tarnished America’s image on the world stage and transformed the American dream into a nightmare for most Americans regardless their work ethic and ingenuity. Republicans are promising to revisit their idea of American exceptionalism with job-killing tax cuts for the wealthy and an unprovoked pre-emptive war with Iran if they prevail in the general election, and presumptive Republican presidential candidate Willard Romney is leading the way.
For the past three years, Republicans accused President Obama of not promoting America as an exceptional nation even though he raised America’s standing in the eyes of the world and saved the economy from the devastation left by eight years of Bush Republicans. Romney spent the past six months accusing President Obama of not recognizing America’s exceptionalism, but his plans will take America in a direction that will make it exceptional as a land of poverty-stricken and uneducated people.
Romney has assailed the President for apologizing for America’s wanton warmongering in the Middle East, and specifically decried the President for “repeatedly apologizing for “American misdeeds, both real and imagined.” Apparently, Romney believes America is so exceptional that it need not apologize for its misdeeds and it is Bush policy all over again. Romney’s point was that President Obama is not a real American and his campaign message has been that the President “does not believe in the American Experiment” even though President Obama is the poster child for how the American experiment of hard work, study, and diligence pays off in a truly exceptional country.
Romney’s idea of American exceptionalism can be best characterized by his recent budget proposal that drastically slashes education spending and his assertion that a minimum wage job defines the middle class. Last month, Romney asserted that jobs paying $19,000 annually will make the US “the best place in the world to be middle class again,” but according to the Office of Management and Budget, $19,000 is below the $22,314 federal poverty level for a family of four. As it stands now, 46.2 million people are living in poverty and if Romney has his way, nearly every American will be below the poverty level unless they are in Romney’s wealthy elite category of earners. In order to maintain the high poverty numbers Romney champions as “middle class,” he gave an indication that keeping Americans uneducated is key to perpetual poverty or as Romney calls it; middle class.
In a speech last week, Romney said he would severely cut or combine the Department of Education with some other agency, but would not totally eliminate it because he wants to use the federal government to push back against teachers’ unions as a means of sending educated professionals into poverty. At a time when corporations and high-tech companies are complaining that the workforce is not highly-trained and educated, it makes absolutely no sense to eliminate public education or make it prohibitively expensive to earn a college degree, but that is precisely Romney’s plan for America. Romney and Paul Ryan’s budget both make drastic cuts to education and Pell Grants that are critical for a majority of students to earn degrees beyond a high school diploma, but perhaps in Romney’s exceptional America, a high school diploma will be the exception and not the rule.
Willard Romney’s idea of American exceptionalism is surpassing China for the least educated and poorest populace in the industrialized world. The idea of eliminating the Department of Education is not new for Willard and, indeed, many Republicans have signaled their support for replacing public schools with privately owned and operated for-profit institutions to enrich corporations and impose religious training on every student in America. However, if Romney’s great middle class earns $19,000 annually, they will be hard-pressed to afford food and shelter for their children much less a private education. It is difficult to believe Americans will support eliminating public schools, but Americans do not support more tax cuts for the wealthy either but that has not stopped Willard and his Republican cohorts from pushing bigger tax breaks for the wealthiest 1% of American income earners.
Romney’s vision for America is not exceptional and not good for the American people, the economy, or the nation’s standing in the world, but it is good for Willard Romney. The man can give no reasonable explanation for cutting funding for education or drastically reducing the Department of Education, leaving any semi-intelligent American to assume he wants America to be exceptional like third-world countries where an education is reserved for the wealthiest elites and the majority of the population lives below the poverty level.
America’s education system is the reason this country was once exceptional because every American had the right to a free education and it is the only reason there was a great middle class in this country. Perhaps Romney wants America to be exceptional by having more peasants without a basic education than China or Somalia, and a standard of living on par with the poorest African nations. His vision of American exceptionalism is in stark contrast to President Obama’s vision where, if they so desire, every American has the opportunity to earn a college degree that will elevate them out of poverty and into the middle class and beyond, but the notion of a vibrant educated middle class is anathema to Republicans.
America as an exceptional nation suffered under Republican rule during the Bush years, and Romney promises to return and surpass Bush’s disastrous policies. Romney cannot appreciate America’s exceptionalism because he was born into wealth and attended the finest schools, so the “American experience” he accuses President Obama of missing was an experience he never participated in. The American dream was being born poor, studying, and working hard to find success, and President Obama lived through that experience to earn the nation’s highest office. Romney is attempting to buy the highest office and limit every American to a life of poverty as an uneducated peasant to be more exceptional than China, and he has laid out his plan to achieve his goal. By cutting or eliminating public education, restricting middle class Americans to earning $19,000 annually, and gutting social safety nets, Willard will achieve his goal of surpassing Communist China as an industrialized nation with a population of uneducated peasants and if that is his idea and definition of American exceptionalism, he has never understood what it means to be an American because he is not a real American. He is a wealthy elitist, a vile human being, and a pathological liar.
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.