We’ve Killed the Exceptionalism That Laid Exceptional Eggs

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American Exceptionalism

Back When We Really Were Exceptional

Politicians traditionally like to talk about American Exceptionalism … a lot. Why Mittens has chosen not to, especially on this auspicious day, is a mystery. The argument is a common cudgel when candidates would rather not talk about something and this election is full of things not to talk about.

What many of them don’t know is Joseph Stalin coined the phrase, though not as a compliment. That’s right, George the Lesser, Newt Gingrich, St. Ronnie of Reagan, and dozens more used the term to convince Americans they were special. And they have the audacity to call Obama a commie.

But as they warped Ol’ Joe’s words to their own purposes, America was becoming less special by the year, often at the hands of those who believed American-style anything would spread like wildfire and make the world – and not just America – Reagan’s shining city upon a hill. And it did after a fashion, providing you define exceptionalism as putting a Big Mac in every nation’s pot and reruns of B.J. and the Bear on every wide-screen TV.

Of course we continue to be special in many ways. We believe science is just a nusance standing in the way of the Bible. We believe education is better left to illiterate chucklheads who don’t want their kids “indoctrinated”. We hold the odd theory that the best way to spread democracy, love, and peace is to bomb the hell out of someplace most Americans couldn’t find on a map (likely because they were home-schooled). Where the rest of the world used to ask America for help with everything, today they look at us as giant, ignorant pains in the ass.

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What’s Exceptional for America is Exceptional for the World!

Conservatives think brooking the idea that America just like everyone else is heresy. But these neo-ignorati forget the history of “exceptional” countries in the past. France, Spain, Germany, and Britain all vied for the title of World Superpower and for a while each was. But in the end all those “(Fill in the Country) Decades” leveled the playing field of exceptionalism. All of the also rans and some of the winners were left with piles of rubble, failed economies (some of which never fully recovered), and beholden to other nations – like America – to pick up the slack until they got their act together. They’re still working on that part and our ability to pick up the slack is ruined.

Despite these lessons, America believed our own PR a little too much. We thought we could be everything to everybody – a nation of endless plenty and courageous people willing to sacrifice when no one else would. We fancied ourselves the only nation on Earth able to bring peace and prosperity to places that have never had peace or prosperity. We did too much too soon and frittered away the very things that made us exceptional. We forgot this whole exceptional thing took a lot of treasure and time and ability to decide wisely which was the side of right.

Now we’re a nation of sniveling asshats who fear our own shadows and don’t understand the word “United” in the name of our country. We’ve sold our national soul to bidders, and not necessarily the highest ones. We’ve outsourced and (in deference to Mitt’s campaign spokesguy) offshored exactly those things most American – the things that really were exceptional. We’ve become a nation of selfish bastards who aren’t willing to help our own citizens much less those in other countries. We’ve become fat and willfully stupid and crowed about how exceptional we are while doing it. We can’t even understand the rest of the world sees us as a menace and we arrogantly say what they think doesn’t matter. We’re the World’s Largest Hubris Power.

True, there was an American Century where we represented exceptionalism. But, a century is a lot shorter lived than how long Britannia ruled the waves or the French kicked Euroass. One hundred years is hardly a blip.

Now, it’s no longer our century or our world or even our country. There is nothing exceptional about us other than our utter unexceptionalism.

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