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Is the United States exceptional? Show more Show less

American Exceptionalism is a pervasive force in the United States. Since the founding Americans have believed themselves to be freer than the other nations of the globe. It is a philosophy which can been seen on both the political right and left in the United States. This exceptionalism has given Americans a feeling of almost divine mission, but is it in any way justified?

Yes, America is exceptional but not necessarily in a good way Show more Show less

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America has many characteristics that make it stand out

America's somewhat self-congratulatory portrait of itself and largely unchallenged faith in American exceptionalism is not necessarily an opinion shared by other countries.
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Context

America is not exceptionally free and the government is not exceptionally small. it came 22nd in the World’s Transparency index that measures corruption – not dreadful but not stellar either[1].

The Argument

The idea that the United States is uniquely virtuous may be comforting to Americans; too bad it’s not true [2]. America has many of its own special qualities, as all countries do, but when Barack Obama suggested American exceptionalism was no different to British or Greek exceptionalism he was pilloried in the media. Americans take too much credit for global progress and accept too little blame for areas where U.S. policy has in fact been counterproductive [2]. The democratic ideal that is held dear does wilt when examined in the context of the Electoral Colleges and the popular vote. Despite being the self-appointed leader of free world [2], during just one administration, the USA has unilaterally pulled out of multiple international treaties around global issues. These include the nuclear arms control treaty with Russia, Paris climate accord (despite being the major producer of greenhouse gases for most of the last hundred years), Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership, withdrawing from UNESCO and threatening to leave both NATO and the North American Free Trade Agreement. Many issues where America was at the leading edge are hindered by its introspection. “The idea that the United States is uniquely virtuous may be comforting to Americans; too bad it’s not true” [2]. An unchallenged faith in American exceptionalism makes it harder for Americans to understand why others are less enthusiastic about them [2]. There is a strong belief God is on the American’s side and an increase in ideas such as creationism. In contrast to being at the forefront of a lot of scientific discoveries and innovation “The United States (also has) … some of the most backwards proponents of superstitious nonsense in both our electorate and at the highest levels of politics. It is an embarrassment to host laboratories that are at the forefront of scientific research in the same country where presidential candidates are discussing whether Earth is really 6,000 years old as some Bible scholars say, or whether they believe in evolution.” [3]

Counter arguments

America remains a superpower and a leader on the global stage

Framing

Premises

[p1] The United States of America is exceptional in many ways. [p2] Not all of of these exceptional qualities are admirable

Rejecting the premises

Proponents

Further Reading

References

  1. https://www.economist.com/democracy-in-america/2011/02/15/how-exceptional-is-america-really
  2. https://www.nature.com/articles/454581a
  3. https://www.nature.com/articles/454581a

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This page was last edited on Tuesday, 26 May 2020 at 08:37 UTC