Wednesday, July 14, 2010

American Exceptionalism

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.


Darkwulfe said...

A point well put! And yes I know...I am guilty too...but in my defense hardly nobody reads my blog and I use it to vent so I can be polite to those people when I actually interact with them! *grins* I know...excuses, excuses, excuses...great post Babe!

Will Shealy said...

Nicely said, Mandy. I think there are many who agree with this, but when confronted with said opposing views, they revert back to knee-jerk defense. You're right - real discourse is needed, but I worry that most people aren't for it. I hope I'm wrong, but I'm certain that you are right. Again - nicely said.

Iris Silk said...

The late Lee Atwater and others of his ilk have a lot to answer for. The politics of demonization replaced meaningful discourse. We cannot just disagree, we must assign evil motives to our opposition.

Evil Twin's Wife said...

Very well written. I just stick by my motto of never discussing politics, religion or finances with anyone. It saves me a lot of grief!

Matt-Man said...

The problem is that Americans have become lazy. Not in a physical sense but rather in an intellectual sense. Many Americans WANT to see things in a black or white/ my side-your side way.


Because it makes life easier. Many folks prefer being told what to think by the likes of Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow because it makes life easier.

It's sad. While America may still be exceptional, many Americans have become intellectually mediocre.

Cheers Mandy!!

JP said...

You're not wrong... people are taking politics WAY too personally.

Look I'm a dedicated, dyed in the wool liberal... but I also understand that just because you believe things that are different than what I do... that doesn't make you a horrible person. We just disagree and that's ok.

I'm not sure when it started... I'm thinking it was in the early 90s...

Anyway, back in the 80s, who was Reagan's favorite drinking buddy? Democratic icon Tip O'Neill.

Who is my favorite political commentator? Conservative Republican Joe Scarborough.

The Republic is going to survive the opposing party being in control. Relax and don't get so bent out of shape. You don't like losing an election (and believe me I didn't like 2000 and 2004 hurt even more), then get pissed off and work your ass off to get your candidate elected in the next election (and that's what I did working to get 3 Democrats elected to Republican seats in 2006).

"Keep calm and carry on"... that's Scarborough's mantra... he's so right about that...

Anyway... great blog!