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Essay 2 – American Exceptionalism

Part 1: What’s So Great About Our Constitution, Anyway?

❶Proponents of American exceptionalism often claim that many features of the "American spirit" were shaped by the frontier process following Frederick Jackson Turner 's Frontier Thesis. Retrieved 7 October

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Then there is the belief that American society is a nearly classless one. Here is a society that effectively battled poverty and created just relations between classes and social groups.

The problem comes, however, when these idealized myths run up against bleak realities. Consider the Soviet Union. I believe that when Vladimir Putin wrote in his New York Times essay that it is very dangerous to foster the idea of exceptionalism among Americans, he spoke from the point of view of someone whose country had already suffered the collapse of such illusions.

It is perilous for politicians and society to fail to notice the moment in which the gap between ideology and reality becomes an abyss. In our case, such failure led to the collapse of the USSR. And, if I understand Putin correctly, he is calling on Americans not to repeat our mistakes. This is why, I think, many American politicians, analysts and journalists, instead of thanking President Putin for the friendly piece of advice, wrongly took offence.

Putin was not disparaging America; he was warning it. And for a number of reasons his concerns are not unwarranted. The Myth of American Exceptionalism.

He identifies three main sub-types: During the George W. Bush administration — , the term was somewhat abstracted from its historical context. This new use of the term has served to confuse the topic and muddy the waters since its unilateralist emphasis, and actual orientation diverges somewhat from prior uses of the phrase. A certain number of those who subscribe to "old-style" or "traditional American exceptionalism"-the idea that America is a more nearly exceptional nation than are others, that it differs qualitatively from the rest of the world and has a unique role to play in world history—also agree that the United States is and ought to be entirely subject to and bound by the public international law.

Indeed, recent research shows that "there is some indication for American exceptionalism among the [U. On September 12, , in the context of U. President Barack Obama's comment about American exceptionalism during his September 10, , talk to the American people while considering military action on Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians, Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized Obama saying that "It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation.

They considered themselves the chosen race, the superior race, etc. Such words and ideas pose extreme danger. Critics on the left such as Marilyn Young and Howard Zinn have argued that American history is so morally flawed, citing slavery , civil rights and social welfare issues, that it cannot be an exemplar of virtue.

Pease mocks American exceptionalism as a "state fantasy" and a "myth" in his book The New American Exceptionalism. American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr argued that the automatic assumption that America acts for the right will bring about moral corruption.

However, Niebuhr did support the nation's Cold War policies. His position called " Christian realism " advocated a liberal notion of responsibility that justified interference in other nations. Reichard and Ted Dickson argue "how the development of the United States has always depended on its transactions with other nations for commodities , cultural values and populations". It's going to take a generation or so to reclaim American exceptionalism. Herbert London has defined pre-emptive declinism as a postmodern belief "that the United States is not an exceptional nation and is not entitled by virtue of history to play a role on the world stage different from other nations".

However, most of us imagined that our downfall, when it came, would be something grand and tragic. According to RealClearPolitics , declarations of America's declining power have been common in the English-language media. In , Flora Lewis said that "Talk of U. Citing America's dependence on foreign sources of energy and "crucial weaknesses" in the military, Tom Wicker concluded "that maintaining superpower status is becoming more difficult—nearly impossible—for the United States".

From his vantage point in Shanghai, the International Herald Tribune ' s Howard French worries about "the declining moral influence of the United States" over an emergent China. In his book, The Post-American World , Newsweek editor Fareed Zakaria refers to a "Post-American world" that he says "is not about the decline of America, but rather about the rise of everyone else". In December , historian Peter Baldwin published a book arguing that, despite widespread attempts to contrast the ' American way of life ' and the ' European social model ', America and Europe are actually very similar to a number of social and economic indices.

Baldwin claimed that the black underclass accounts for many of those few areas where a stark difference exists between the U. In most cases in which this subject has broached the similarities between the conflicting parties outweigh the differences.

However, he adds, America is made exceptional by the intensity with which these characteristics are concentrated there. In April , U. President Barack Obama responded to a journalist's question in Strasbourg with the statement, "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.

He grew up more as a globalist than an American. To deny American exceptionalism is in essence to deny the heart and soul of this nation. In a speech on the Syria crisis on September 10, , Obama said: That is what makes America different.

That is what makes us exceptional. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal. You are not going to like that term," Trump said. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Not to be confused with Americanism ideology. Economic mobility and Social mobility. Pease; John Carlos Rowe Re-framing the Transnational Turn in American Studies.

University Press of New England. Democracy in America , part 2, p. A History in Documents , p. The New American Exceptionalism. U of Minnesota Press.

Noble, Death of a Nation: American Culture and the end of exceptionalism , pp. The Transformation of Early American History: Society, Authority, and Ideology p. Transacting the Mythos of Change in the Presidential Campaign". Sovereignty", Stanford Law Review , May 1, , p.

Mentor to American Industry. Columbia University Press, Bruce Burgett and Glenn Hendler. University of Chicago Press. The Atlantic, March 15, Retrieved 13 September Greenwood Press, , p.

Origins of American Social Science. Why the World Needs a Powerful America". Retrieved November 3, The Liberal Tradition after the Cold War". Studies in American Political Development. Australasian Journal of American Studies. Litke, "Varieties of American Exceptionalism: Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Boston, , 3rd series 7: Archived from the original on April 13, Retrieved March 13, Oxford University Press — via Google Books.

Reflections on the Birth of the United States online. The Purpose of the Past: Reflections on the Uses of History. A Religious History of the American Revolution. The other school of thinking is that of consensus theory, where history progresses through peaceful continuity; and politics are always consensual.

It is now necessary to apply these perspectives to American history, see which is prevalent and if a synthesis between the two can be created, and then assess whether or not the idea of American Exceptionalism is viable given the contradiction of the conflict perspective.

The key difficulty in using the conflict and consensus perspectives is that they can not be picked or chosen. Affiliations or member groups in the USA are interest groups. These fall into the conflict perspective as interest groups protect consumer rights and empower members. This does not challenge exceptionalism however as it demonstrates Americas pluralistic society in action, definitely a factor of American exceptionalism.

Social grouping of people in the USA must not be overlooked. Consensus historians and most Americans themselves will tell you about the classless society of America. Although this does follow consensus theory, classless society is completely irrelevant when there are still rich and poor.

America may be a classless society, but like all others it is also a circumstantial society. Consensus historians believe that US history has flowed with peaceful transition.

This is obviously one of the weaker arguments of the consensus perspective, as US history is marked with violent upheaval, from the war of independence, civil war, universal suffrage through to the race riots of LA. As far as nature of change in US history is concerned, there is only the conflict perspective. At first glance it appears that the conflict perspective can be neatly applied to US politics.


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American exceptionalism is partially a reflection of our nation's long history, but Americans can tend to be ethnocentric and judge other cultures by the standards of their own. When a lot of people think of America, they think about a country that is made up of a mixing bowl of races and ethnicities.

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Keywords: american exceptionalism essay American Exceptionalism Definition American exceptionalism is a concept which depicts that the United States is unique and different from the rest of the world.

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Bacevich’s essay concluding the book brings us up the moment by stressing how interconnected the American Century and American exceptionalism have become. “To liken the United States to any other country (Israel possibly excepted) is to defile a central tenet of the American civil religion. In summary, American exceptionalism is a theory that the United States is special due to its uniquely free ideals based on liberty and democracy. This applies to Syria in that Americans may be fundamentally different but intervening would .

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History Essays - American Exceptionalism - Explain what is meant by American Exceptionalism and consider how valid and useful a concept this is to an understanding of the thirteen colonies at American Exceptionalism is a belief that America is exceptional and does not conform to the norm. It is the uniqueness of our country which sets us apart from all of the rest. American Exceptionalism can be traced back to the s when Alexis de Tocqueville who was the first to use the term “exceptional” to describe the United States and the .