americaneaglegraphic_0

American Exceptionalism

American Exceptionalism can be seen as a device favored by American politicians to follow through with their political agendas. More important is the question, to which no one has an answer still, of which side has gained politically from the emergence of this new political word.[1]

American culture and history play a significant role in the power manifested within this term – it is what ultimately shapes the way people think about politics and government.[2] As a country of immigrants first inhabited by British settlers (early Puritans), then Africans, then Ireland and Germany, Poland and Italy, Mexico, China, India, and so on – the nation’s known to have become a melting pot with a diverse set of values.

However, the key concept ingrained in the very pillars of this nation and something everyone can agree with is that the role of the American government is to safeguard each individual’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – a belief now suited for all its citizens regardless of class, color, or creed. The belief speaks to all American people despite their differences, as well as wanna-be Americans who are in search for the last best hope for mankind.[3]

The idea of exceptionalism, to think itself unique from the rest of the world, directly influences American foreign policy.  Presidents have invoked the idea of exceptionalism in the past that have interfered with affairs abroad. During the Cold War, for example, Ronald Raegan believed that America had a duty to be “the shining city on the hill,” an example [to the world] of what a good and blessed country should be like.[4] This of course led to more immigration and foreign involvement.

Liberals, being antiexceptionalists, wish to take America down a notch[5] when it comes to exceptionalism. They do not agree with the notion of assessing another region with their own standards of belief, no matter how democratic they are. Conservatives do; they take pride in pointing to how America is unlike other advanced democracies.[6]  But our foundational ideas have (at least) two sides[7] to them; disagreements and debates are what constitute the American ideals, the American culture.

As we’re constantly being redefined, it is safe to assume that our country is destined to be the great nation of futurity,[8] just like Brits believe in British exceptionalism and Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.[9]


[1] “The Origins and Character of American Exceptionalism, “American Political Thought 1(1): 3-28, by James W. Ceasar

[2] “Ideas that Shape American Politics,” by J. Morone & R. Kersh

[3] Abraham Lincoln’s annual message to Congress, December 1862

[4] American Exceptionalism, Sparknotes

[5] “The Origins and Character of American Exceptionalism, “American Political Thought 1(1): 3-28, by James W. Ceasar

[6] “The Origins and Character of American Exceptionalism, “American Political Thought 1(1): 3-28, by James W. Ceasar

[7] “Ideas that Shape American Politics,” by J. Morone & R. Kersh

[8] “Great Nation of Futurity,” John L. O’Sullivan on Manifest Destiny, 1839

[9] “The Origins and Character of American Exceptionalism, “American Political Thought 1(1): 3-28, by James W. Ceasar