Posts Tagged ‘Ryan’

American Exceptionalism

Ending his April 5th House floor presentation of the largest proposed cutback of government spending in history, Congressman Paul Ryan declared, “It is now up to all of us to keep America exceptional.” It was the third time Ryan invoked American exceptionalism in his speech. The idea of exceptionalism has surfaced with some energy recently. President Obama, for example, was chastised for not thinking of America as exceptional and he seemed later to take pains to claim that he, too, believes it is exceptional. Exceptionalism has (again) become a buzzword. (A conservative columnist even cited my book as proof that a liberal sociologist acknowledges America’s exceptionalism.)

There are at least two different ways the term exceptionalism is used and it is worth sorting those out. Congressman Ryan’s use of the term is quite appropriate and worth close attention. The exceptionalism he means may, however, go deeper than he imagines.


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