What we believe: American Exceptionalism

Bill Whittle concludes his series on what American conservatives believe with a look at a hard-to-define concept: that America and the American people are exceptional among the nations of the Earth:

Whittle talks about four measures that illustrate this exceptionalism: military, scientific, economic, and cultural dominance. With just 5% of the world’s population, for example, we produce 24% of the Earth’s GDP.

But these are just external signs of the internal qualities that make the United States and her people exceptional; behind them all stand the ideas that create the conditions for the success measured by Whittle’s four yardsticks. Among them are limited government, the idea that humans can rule themselves and that government needs only a few powers; free markets and private property, connecting effort with reward and aligning private interest with public good; and the rule of law, applied equally to all without regard for wealth, religion or ethnicity. Whittle touches on these at the end and, through them, ties his whole series together.

Of course, these ideas are ideals, things to strive for, even though we often fall short. And America itself is an ideal, Winthrop’s “shining city upon a hill,” meant to inspire us and the world, even if the reality is often blemished. Yes, the same nation that proclaimed all Men are created equal and endowed with unalienable rights also held millions in slavery. But it was the ideal of America that demanded they be set free even at the cost of a devastating civil war and that the struggle continue for another hundred years, until the neo-slavery of Jim Crow was torn down.

And it is in that overriding ideal of America that American conservatives believe.

LINKS: Ed Morrissey is also impressed.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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One Response to What we believe: American Exceptionalism

  1. Zachriel says:

    Gee whiz. Conservatives fought the Marshall Plan. We stopped listening at that point.

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