John Brummett engages a topic this morning that’s been on my mind a bit since rising Congressman Tim Griffin actually invoked the words American exceptionalism in a campaign release earlier this year. It’s the old my-country-right-or-wrong/love-it-or-leave-it/ugly Americanism that has always been a mother lode of political opportunism for certain kinds of politicans and with appeal to a broad swath of voters.

Is the U.S. “Special in the world, divinely blessed, better than the rest,” as Brummett defined the term? A reflexive yes ignores the reality of the specifics, however great a beacon of hope and freedom we have been, are and hope to be. Demonstrably — take education and health care — all the specific comparisons can’t be answered in the affirmative. After arrogance, this is the biggest problem with the exceptionalism argument. If you’re already perfect, what need is there to seek to improve or learn from others who might have a better idea?


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