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R. I. P. American Exceptionalism

Although it may still be possible to claim that the United States is, or may in the future be, the "shining city on a hill" the late Ronald Reagan would refer to now and then, that claim is less easy to make given recent events.

It's even more difficult, now, to make the claim that our Great Republic is remarkable and serves as an ideal for all other nations  because it's based on the rule of law, regularly holds free elections, is a bastion of democracy, based as it is on liberty, equality before the law, and unshakeable in its reliance on representative government.  It will be especially difficult to maintain, as we have in the past, America's Moral authority when it comes to governance.

In truth, what we saw on Capitol Hill is what we've seen in other countries we've thought were flawed in various respects.  Speaking frankly, we saw what's taken place in nations we've believed were inferior to ours, nations less fortunate than ours is, less favored, less solid, less moral, less truthful, less just--the list goes on depending on the extent of our self-satisfaction and self-righteousness.  We saw what we find contemptible in others.  

So, it appears our bragging rights have been revoked.  Strangely, they've been revoked by people who have relished exercising those rights.  To all appearances, American Exceptionalism has been ended by those most inclined to insist it exists, and loudly.  It will be difficult to maintain that we're better than the rest of the world.

That ending may have serious consequences.  Some would say that the U.S. has never had good cause to purport to be morally superior than other nations, and that recent events have merely made its depravity evident.  Some claim that America's statements regarding its superior moral status have always been cynical and hypocritical.  But America has been respected and is considered a leader.  Friends and foes of the country will be inclined, now, to wonder whether it's entitled to respect and leadership.  If the nation is as subject to thugs assailing the government as any banana republic, why should it be considered better than such countries?  What right have we to speak of evil empires, or an axis of evil, or criticize elections elsewhere?  How can we pose as the friend and protector democracies? 

While simple explanations are satisfying and no doubt will be sought, it can't be the case that one flawed person and his willing lackeys are responsible for our diminishment.  They clearly have responsibility for what's taken place and may still take place.  It can be said, fairly, that they incited insurrection, and did so for selfish motives.  One wonders if they were motivated solely by the desire to remain in power, to make as much money as possible off the nation, or if they were also motivated by the fear of retaliation once they're out of power.  George Orwell predicted that the world would come to be dominated by millionaires (it would have to be "billionaires" now) and thugs.  For a time at least, our Glorious Union has been so dominated.  It can be hoped it won't be any longer, but that may be a fond hope.  

This post first appeared on I, Ciceronianus; Causidus, please read the originial post: here

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R. I. P. American Exceptionalism


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