American Exceptionalism is a myth

    There is no such thing as “American Exceptionalism.” There is absolutely nothing exceptional about us. At least nothing positive. Let’s recap, shall we? Americans are:

  • Represented by a dysfunctional, get-nothing-done government
  • Undereducated and ignorant
  • An overweight, sedentary population where preventable illnesses like heart disease and type II Diabetes run rampant
  • Underpaid and overworked
  • Enraptured by consumerism and greed
  • Trading freedoms right and left for “security”

    Sounds exceptionally stupid to me. There are plenty of other developed countries where the people are happier, healthier, smarter and social mobility still exists. Anyone who thinks that America has some sort of monopoly on innovation is kidding themselves and out of touch with reality. The empire is crumbling, just as it has with every other empire that’s ever existed. There may have once been a time when we were “the greatest nation on earth,” whatever the hell that means, but that time has long passed.
    And for the record, I don’t hate America. I think this is a great place to live. But it’s certainly not the greatest. I write this because there’s this weird cloud that many people have their heads in where they can’t see the problems with this country, and so its decline continues while a good chunk of people blissfully sing the national anthem and still believe that by working hard, buying a pickup truck, watching football, and eating apple pie that they’ll move into that mansion in no time.

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5 thoughts on “American Exceptionalism is a myth

  1. It all depends on how broad a definition of “exceptionalism” you accept. I agree with all the examples you’ve cited, however the US continues to have an exceptional and superior tradition in the production of motion pictures, and audiences in every other country still want to see American movies. I think we also have exceptional traditions in literature and humor.

    1. Well I guess I’ll give you that our entertainment industry is bar-none. I guess I meant this more in the political and socioeconomic sense in which the phrase is most often invoked. Thank you for the comment!

  2. I agree, we’ve got problems; and most likely, we have more problems than the average nation-state, but we’re – if you view us from a historical perspective – exceptional.

    And in some instances, we’re unique: e.g. we’re the wealthiest nation in human history; thus far, the only country to have landed men on the moon; we’ve produced more Nobel Laureates than any other country, a staggering 338; we’ve got 90 overseas military bases and have boots on the ground in 130 different nations (Rome, eat your heart out); and I could keep going on and on and on.

    I’m not defending our country’s policies, politics, et cetera, et cetera, but I think we qualify as exceptional vis-a-vis the rest of the world. After all, most countries don’t have states (California) with GDPs larger than that of large industrialized nation-states (Canada).

    1. Thank you for the comment! I suppose that’s definitely one way to look at it, and a very interesting perspective. In my humble opinion, of all of those accomplishments you listed, only the fact about the Nobel laureates and the moon landing stand out as truly being “great.” Wealth and power are nothing if they’re squandered and misused (but that gets back to the politics and policies). Perhaps we have a great nation filled with not-so-great people, I have no clue. I guess it just sticks in my craw that people blindly think that America has a monopoly on all things great simply by way of the virtue of being America. I agree that we as a nation have historically unparalleled wealth and production capacity. But what do we do with it? We make shoes with lights in the soles and erect a Starbucks on every street corner.

  3. I understand your frustration, we have a lot of idiot countrymen, but we’re still unique. Albeit, by and large, it seems we’re currently hellbent on impeding our fundamental rights, we’re still here to discuss our country without fear of governmental retaliation. I know, we can pick our culture and country a part, but this isn’t unique; I guarantee you, every country has its strengths and its weaknesses. I’ll just name a few: we often admire the Japanese educational system vis-a-vis their successes in math in science, but few of us want to acknowledge the loss of human life correlated with it or the fact that rote memorization doesn’t create an environment conducive to innovation (how many Nobel Laureates has Japan produced? 20); we want to praise European liberalism, but seldom choose to acknowledge its dark side of it, e.g. the misery brought on by high unemployment, violence, racism, and rampant nationalism; or we often choose to pontificate half-truths regarding the necessity of non-violence by often quoting the victims of it, i.e. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Jesus Christ.

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