Patriots who are experts on the matter, including members of Congress and the corporate oligarchs for whom they toil, believe that all of us who are fortunate enough to live here in the greatest country on Earth benefit from a magical phenomenon known as American Exceptionalism.
What this means, according to those who have made a study of our glorious history, is basically this: America is different than every other country on the planet. We’re exceptional.
Are we better than every other republic? That’s not for modest Americans to say. All we wish to claim is our exceptionalism, our uniqueness.
And not just the obvious stuff: our ongoing experiment in democracy, our astonishing standard of living, our respect for abstract concepts like human rights, civil liberties, and privacy. We’re talking about the subtler things, the dozens of qualities and conventions that collectively comprise our character. That which makes us American is that which makes us truly exceptional.
Over the long July 4th weekend, we found signs of American Exceptionalism everywhere, confirming our unspoken (yet deeply longed for) hope that American Exceptionalism wasn’t just some encouraging-sounding nostrum, a cynical excuse that politicians use as a blanket apology for whatever unilateral policy they wish to implement. No, American Exceptionalism is real.
We looked around and saw that Americans are exceptional in so many ways! Americans are exceptionally fat; Americans are exceptionally entertained by violence, simulated and actual; Americans are exceptionally disproportionate consumers of the planet’s resources; Americans are exceptionally militaristic, with more spending on their war machine than the next ten countries combined; Americans are exceptionally addicted to comfort and convenience; Americans are exceptionally reliant on the benefits of slave labor, whether from Mississippi cotton plantations or Bangladeshi stitching factories.
Also, Americans are exceptionally prone to the belief that every other country in the world would be a lot better off if they stopped complaining, started cooperating, and gracefully accepted our American Exceptionalism.