We believe in American Exceptionalism. There. We said it. And we mean it.
We do not think this means that we’re automatically better than anyone else. Certainly not on a case by case basis. In some things at some times other people have done things better than us. Rather significantly better than us indeed. But taken on the whole, we have done things better than an awful lot of our friends in the world.
The Roman Empire lasted, if a bit of artistic license is incorporated, somewhere around 1500 years. Closer to 2200 years, if we are to take Romulus and Remus seriously and incorporate the Roman Republic. Yet we eradicated slavery by the blood of many patriots within 100 years of our birth. They had it for the bulk of their run, if not all of it.
To be sure, the British Empire eradicated it long before we did. Yet how were we to expect that while the British Empire held us in chains itself?
We are not today, if you listen to our European friends, quite so enlightened as they are. Yet our blood made their vaunted enlightenment quite possible, and their enlightenment may still destroy European civilization as we and they know it. Will the Euro survive the weak economies which plague it? Will Europe survive it? Yet we are here, and the similar fears about us somehow do not appear quite so awful. The loss of civilization for an single nation compared to that of an entire continent seem somehow muted.
They do not understand our horror at recent Supreme Court decisions upholding things like Obamacare and gay marriage. Well, we do not understand their fascination with cradle to grave socialism. Well, we do not understand their belief in the government over the person. We feel, quite securely, we might add, that our sense of personal freedom and responsibility trumps their statist ways.
Freedom to many seems to mean simply throwing off the old chains. Is that real freedom for Iran and Egypt? Too many people forget that it is an enlightened and responsible freedom which truly makes a free people. Simply tossing aside the old ways means nothing, if it should be replaced by a newer and more voracious despotism.
We had something at the start of our Republic which many today or indeed in world history do not nor did not have: the realization, the understanding,the knowledge, that freedom is more than the lack of authoritarianism. Freedom is disciplined, freedom is rational, freedom is meaningful only in the context of the profound and the eternal; freedom is only possible within the confines of the just and true. When we want what we want precisely because it is what we ought to want, we are free. We become free when we accept and embrace the true, and are willing to defend it against the false. Anything before that, and we are merely selfish.
Has America always and everywhere stood for that ideal? Of course not. Nothing of human construct will ever stand for that. But, quite frankly, and at the risk of the scorn of many of our friends, we have come closest. For a nation to succeed as we have takes foresight and Providence. We have been blessed with both more so than most other nations in history. That is American Exceptionalism. And that is why we are scorned in so many corners of the world today.