When president Obama gave his State of the Union speech a week ago. he called for investment in the USA’s future by funding research and development, and greater emphasis on math and science education. Of course, republicans trounced all over that because they are pushing for smaller government and no new spending anywhere, regardless of the fact that US students rank behind so many other countries in math & science, and more and more American jobs are lost to other countries which can produce better, cheaper, and faster than we can. Penny wise and dollar foolish, the non-short-sighted among us would say.
In the same breath, the republicans promote the idea of American Exceptionalism in its latest iteration which postulates in its simplest form that the USA is better than any other nation. Period.
This bizarre and arrogant attitude, besides being insulting to the many other great nations in the world, is constantly defended by the most rabid of the American conservative movement. With much of its roots in the puritan legacy of some of the first settlers (“our religion is the only right religion”), the wing-nuts will make all manner of fantastical claims to rationalize their view of “American Exceptionalism”.
For example, they’ll assert that the US constitution was the first and the best national governing document in history. While it is true that the US constitution is indeed a magnificently dynamic governmental charter, by no means is it the first document granting rights to citizens and restricting totalitarian governmental powers. In fact, the Magna Carta, written in 1215, preceded the US Constitution by over 550 years, and served as a baseline for the American document.
The arrogant right claims that American ingenuity, investment, productivity, quality of life and every other characteristic of life are the best because of “American Exceptionalism”. If that’s true, then why is the USA losing jobs to other nations? Why are Asian electronics considered the best in the world? Why is corporate America investing massive capital overseas?
And why does the USA spend twice as much on health care per capita as any other socially advanced western industrial country, but its citizens live fours years less than in those countries? And why is the USA the only socially advanced western industrial country in the world in which its citizens are regularly forced to lose their homes and declare bankruptcy due of medical expenses?
Finally, how “exceptional” is it that fully 40% of this country’s citizens support people who don’t know that Sputnik didn’t bankrupt the former Soviet Union (Sarah Palin), or that the American founding fathers were not the ones who ended slavery in this country (Michelle Bachmann), or that masturbation is evil but witchcraft is okay (Christine O’Donnell), or that armed revolt against the US congress is acceptable (Sharon Angle).
There is nothing “exceptional” about people making up their own “history” simply to convince citizens to vote them into public office. Yet, that’s exactly what the four people above did, even as they staunchly defend and promote “American Exceptionalism”. Lying is quite unexceptional, even if some of their lies are kind of “exceptional” in their ignorance.
Believing the GOP’s version of “American Exceptionalism” is not the same as being proud to be an American and of the USA’s accomplishments, like landing the first and only men on the moon, or being the first to achieve powered flight, or the polio vaccine, or even of the US constitution itself.
But as with any many other countries, there are events in US history that are not so great: slavery, industrial exploitation of children, unsafe working conditions, and uncontrolled financial environments which caused ultimately contributed to the Great Depression and the recession of 2007-2010, just to mention a very few.
Finally, the worst results of the GOP’s “American Exceptionalism” are both external and internal. Abroad, “American Exceptionalism” does nothing but alienate people from other countries, who find it incredibly arrogant and misguided. At home, its supporters use it to abuse anyone not agreeing with them, calling such people anti-American and anti-patriotic, questioning their judgments and their loyalties, and telling whomever will listen not to trust these “foreign sympathizers”. This practice peaked during the GW Bush administration, but make no mistake: it’s still running strong in the USA.
Just another classic example of extremists using an emotion-founded, horribly short-sighted and arrogant attitude to foment hate and fear.
And speaking of short-sightedness….The ongoing Kepler Spacecraft mission has identified over 1200 planets orbiting nearby stars, almost 60 of which appear to be habitable planets. Kepler found them in just the tiny micro-fraction of sky it can see. It is thus reasonable to assume that the full Milky Way galaxy has thousands or millions of these planets; that some might well be inhabited, possibly with intelligent beings; and that some those might actually be more advanced that humanity (including Americans :) ).
If true, and they finally contact us officially…is the GOP still going to cling to their “American Exceptionalism” manta?
THAT would be worth sticking around for.