I heard the phrase "American Exceptionalism" for the first time today. Apparently its roots are traced back to Alexis de Tocqueville who, when America was about 50 years old, claimed the United States held a special place in the world due to it being the first with a representative democracy. The theory of American Exceptionalism states that the US is very special and should be regarded as such due to its political and religious institutions, historical evolution and the fact it was built by immigrants.
Whoa. That last bit is pretty loaded. I could take this post in so many different directions simply based on how Tocqueville defined American Exceptionalism. Our country was built by immigrants. Just using the word "immigrant" conjures up all kinds of things these days, doesn't it? Then we have "religious" institutions in the same sentence as "political" institutions. That is a can of worms right there, isn't it?
After doing a lot of research I decided what I think is my point of this post. I think the way things are in our country right now, politically, are very sad. Perhaps it has always been this way and I am just really paying more attention, perhaps it is because I am dating a very intelligent, passionate man whom always gets fired up about politics, perhaps it is a combination of things, but our country seems very divisive right now. We seem to want to believe, at whatever cost, that our views are correct and everyone else is wrong. No matter what. There seems to be more inflamed tempers, more anger, more division.
I think what is the most sad to me, is that this should be a good thing. More and more people are getting their voices heard, are expressing their opinions, are paying attention to our political leaders and their views. However, we are missing the bigger picture here. We all want the United States, OUR country, to be admired and respected. We all want to live the "American Dream". Is it too much to think perhaps we could once again draw on our common desires and focus on those as opposed to focusing on why the other guy is wrong?
I happen to think America is exceptional. I think there are amazing opportunities for those willing to work hard. Democracy is amazing, let's remember that is why we love this country. Let's learn to respect each other's view points and instead of instantly trying to paint the other guy as a crazed idiot, let's see what he's saying that might just make sense. Let's see how his ideas might actually be very similar to ours and how we can make them work together. If we spent as much time trying to join forces as we do trying to paint the other guy as a blithering idiot perhaps we would remember why this country is so great in the first place.