YES, WE ARE EXCEPTIONAL – AT 8:30 A.M. ET: Jonah Goldberg, in a must-read column in the L.A. Times, takes dead aim at the growing chorus of "sophisticates," empowered by the age of Obama, who trash American exceptionalism:
Forget that every Fourth of July we celebrate the fact that we fought a Revolutionary War to become an exceptional nation. From their dismissive condescension, you'd think these three educated men didn't know that American exceptionalism has been a well-established notion among scholars for more than a century.
"The position of the Americans is therefore quite exceptional," wrote Alexis de Tocqueville in "Democracy in America," "and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one." Ever since, historians have argued that America's lack of a feudal past, its Puritan roots, the realism of its revolutionary ambitions and many other ingredients contributed to America's status as the "first new nation," to borrow a phrase from Seymour Martin Lipset, who spent his life writing about American exceptionalism.
E.L. Godkin, the Irish-born editor of the Nation, observed in 1867 that the lack of a class-based system, the existence of an open frontier and an optimism that comes with political and economic liberty marked the U.S. as a very different land than Britain, never mind the European continent. In 1906, German sociologist Werner Sombart released his book, "Why is There No Socialism in America?," in which he pointed to similar factors.
Ever since, left-leaning intellectuals have been taking dead aim at American exceptionalism. The notion that America has its own way of doing things separate and distinct from Europe has been one of the greatest impediments to Europeanizing America's political and economic institutions.
The so-called "elites" of America worship the European left. They think of Europe as enlightened and cultured, as opposed to the ragged Americans, those people who, as Obama put it, "cling to their religion and their guns."
Of course, there are tens of thousands of American military graves on European soil. If those soldiers could talk, I wonder what they would tell us about European "enlightenment."
America is the greatest country in the world. That doesn't mean it's perfect. But it is, and remains, the last best hope of Earth.
But, by all means, Democrats, listen to the sophisticates who chortle at the idea that there's anything especially good about America. That will solve Obama's "communication problem."
November 9, 2010