I recently read the Op-Ed in the New York Times by the current President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. Besides being annoyed by the arrogance from the Russian President, I was horrified at the thought of how many Americans agree with him. How many Americans believe that America is just like every other nation? How many Americans believe, like our President has said, “I believe in American exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism”?
So why is America exceptional? Many nations have claimed to be exceptional. Various nations have claimed to be exceptional based on that nation’s ethnicity. This cannot be why America is exceptional, since Americans come from every nation under heaven. Not even our leadership is comprised of one group. Sen. Tim Scott is of African decent, Rep. Eric Cantor is Jewish, Sen. Ted Cruz is Hispanic, and many others are Native American, Asian and Caucasian. Immigration to America from every nation under heaven indicates that America is exceptional.
Other nations claim that they are exceptional because of their military strength, but although America is the only current super power, America was considered exceptional before hand. It was America’s exceptionalism that caused America’s military power.
The source of America’s greatness is the principles on which America was founded. America was founded at a time when kings still ruled the earth. The only nation with any sort of democratic body was Britain, but the king still believed in his supreme power, and Britain still used the divine right of kings. America’s founders rejected the idea that a certain office could legitimately be held by hereditary rule. The founders also rejected the notion that rights came from government, hence the American slogan, “No king but King Jesus.”
America was the first to base her government off of the idea that all men are created equal. Sadly, because of slavery, we did not practice this immediately, but this was still America’s foundation. America is still the only nation that not only pays lip service to equality, but also practices it. This is easily seen from the diversity of the backgrounds of America’s wealthy. In America, classes of people do not really exist. The poorest people can, through hard work and determination, become billionaires, regardless of background or race. Read almost any story of a successful American and you will find that this is true. In America, equality is not just racial equality; it is the fact that we believe the President is equal in value to the plumber. This ideal, found almost exclusively in America, makes America exceptional. Indeed, America was the first to institute this idea.
Americans may not have equal outcome, but we do have equal opportunity. Equalizing the outcome brings everyone down to the man who is the least willing to work, as Russia and the other European nations surely know. America is exceptional because everyone has opportunity, but we leave it to his discretion on how he uses it. As the country singer says, “Only in America can you dream as big as you want to.”
The American ideal of equality was a drastic change from the belief in the divine right of kings and the superiority of the ruling class held by Europeans. America was the first to build a country on the concept of equality and liberty. Indeed, all the other democracies that Putin referenced in his Op-Ed were based off of America. The United States has single handedly in 200 years changed the world from being primarily monarchies to primarily republican-democracies. The United States, though, has been the only nation to fully embrace freedom to this point. Other Nations have instituted the failing system of Socialism, and even though America is headed in that direction, we still are free. Socialism limits a person’s potential and infers that the ruling class has a better ability to deal with the public’s money. America is exceptional because principles of our founding deny the tenets of socialism. As long as America remains free, she will be exceptional. That is why millions of people in the other “democracies” still seek to come to the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
Read Jim DeMint's Letter to Putin here.