American Exceptionalism theory

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, April 8, 2014

By Buddy McDonald

Guest Columnist 

American Exceptionalism is a theory that America is “qualitatively different” from other countries and developed a uniquely American ideology based on liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, republicanism, populism and laissez-faire economics.

Present day American Socialists, Progressives and Liberals are opposed to this belief. They feel America is no better than any other country.

Believers in American exceptionalism, including myself, state the following in support of this belief:

1. Occupational Opportunities—children easily choose careers not mandated by their parents’ occupations or government. Thus allowing increased economic advancement and compensation for individuals.

2. Freedom to live anywhere— where people are born is not seen as fixed; citizens often relocate freely over long distances without permission or restraint by the government.

3. Social status or class—America is unusual and exceptional due to the belief that anyone, who works hard, can advance here based on merit not the circumstances of their birth. This is “living the American dream”. Birth class is not a social barrier to advancement in American society. This is contrary to countries where social statuses, positions and offices are determined by birth and class. In America those born rich or to high social status can in one or two generations fall into poverty if they did not work to maintain their status and income level. The rich at times have a cycle, grandparents make a fortune and children or grandchildren squander the fortune ending in poverty. Social movement in America moves up and down based upon intelligence, ambition, and work.

I believe other things had a great deal to do with what happened in America are the type of men and women who came. They were:

1. Ambitious and wanted to better themselves and their families.

2. They were brighter than many who remained in other countries. They believed that they could, advance as far as they were able without interference from government or class restrictions.

3. They expected to advance by merit without guarantees or assistance from government or others not related. Most immigrants moved out of tenements or slums within two generations, three at most bettering their families. Many times they became small business owners.

4. Those needing charity looked to relatives or churches, synagogues and fraternal/labor organizations not the government. Individual and family effort was expected to provide for families.

5. Originally schools and universities were established by Protestant, Catholic and Jewish groups and provided education. Harvard, Princeton, Yale are prime examples plus thousands of elementary and secondary schools.

6. They viewed family as the important societal organization. Children were educated, trained, taught religion, character, love and respect for our nation, families and culturally oriented in the family.

Some today do not believe in American exceptionalism. They discourage it and do not pass it on to successive generations. They attack its elements and substitute government support for individual effort and religious charity. Accomplished slowly by government intervention in the family, church, charity [welfare] and schools. By trying to create increased dependence by all citizens so that dependence will allow government elite to maintain their political position and power.

Will Americans fall for this and abandon the principals of American exceptionalism in exchange for a new form of serfdom to the government and it’s welfare system. Time will tell.