For past decade, much debate has transpired over the term “American Exceptionalism.” Two months after assuming office (and while overseas speaking to allies), Barack Obama said, “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.”
In April 2015, Donald Trump was asked to define American Exceptionalism and replied, “I don’t like the term, I’ll be honest with you.”
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Though believed to have been coined by Alexis de Tocqueville – the Frenchman who wrote in the 1830s of America’s rise to power – the term has remained a constant throughout our history, and we must ask ourselves whether-or-not America truly was-and-is objectively “exceptional” among nations?
“America is a Godfearing country with all that implies,” said British historian Paul Johnson. “America is the only major (first world) country in the world in which a majority of citizens still voluntarily take part in an active religious life. That is the primary source of American exceptionalism.”
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Johnson added, “America is and always has been a religious country. It was founded primarily for religious reasons. Religious belief and conflict was absolutely dominant until the end of the seventeenth century, and even after this point, the Great Awakenings were determining factors in what happened in America. The first Great Awakening, in the second quarter of the eighteenth century, was the spiritual and emotional engine of the American Revolution that brought the United States into being.”
In fairness to both Pres. Obama and Trump, their responses about “American Exceptionalism” appeared in the context of economics. Trump, for example, went on to explain that nations like Germany were “eating our lunch” economically and therefore we should not use a term claiming we are “better than” other nations. However, as de Tocqueville stated, “There is no country in the world...
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