Wednesday 3 March 2010

News: Debating American Exceptionalism

Richard Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru's essay for National Review Online - "An Exceptional Debate" - is generating a lot of online heat. They claim:
Our country has always been exceptional. It is freer, more individualistic, more democratic, and more open and dynamic than any other nation on earth. These qualities are the bequest of our Founding and of our cultural heritage. They have always marked America as special, with a unique role and mission in the world: as a model of ordered liberty and self-government and as an exemplar of freedom and a vindicator of it, through persuasion when possible and force of arms when absolutely necessary.
And they argue that President Obama is attacking the very qualities that make America "exceptional". Others have disagreed. Damon Linker, writing for The New Republic, argues: "While its authors clearly mean it to stand as a manifesto for a resurgent conservative moment, the essay far more resembles a lullaby—a comforting compilation of consoling pieties set to a soothingly familiar melody." And the Economist's "Democracy in America" blog questions the claim "that America is "freer" or "more democratic" than literally every other society on earth."


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

After reading this, although a lucid and well written piece, I feel the authors got too carried away in their championing of certain aspects of American culture that are far from the pretty picture they paint. Their assertions that Europe is some how crumbling, unwilling to fight its own battles, and economically weak was insulting and the claims that the US is "more democratic" than any other country on the planet was rather laughable. More importantly, the authors were quick to point out the failings of the rest of the world, however when it came to addressing the great misgivings of America they neatly skated over the issue with such short and sweet phrases as, "we are not perfect." Whilst at they same time then completely avoid mentioning any of these imperfections. And instead lambast a President, who is most likely only going to serve one term anyway, for seeing the reality of America's economic and geo-political position, that it is a declining power with serious social problems facing ever increasing competition from the rise of CHina as the next world hegemon. Instead the authors hark back to a concept that is the US believes enough that it is great, amazing, exceptional, then by some strange form of logic, it must be?