American Exceptionalism

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The government shut down.

We are living in a nation that is holding itself hostage. Our elected representatives have decided their partisan politics are more important than keeping people working. Toeing that party line and giving no quarter has left public parks closed, NASA pushing back a Mars mission and many Americans out of work. This is completely unacceptable.

There have been a lot of terms that Americans have used to define their place in the world. Manifest Destiny claimed that the geographical area of the United States is ours, from sea to sea. Another is the idea of American Exceptionalism.

American Exceptionalism is the belief that the US is “qualitatively different” from other nations of the world. We were a nation that earned its freedom. That fought for its beliefs and won. We became a new nation, one that wanted the best lives for its people and any people that came seeking a better life for themselves and their families.

What started as something we earned has been perverted into some inflated sense of pride that continues to grow out of proportion. We see ourselves as the most important nation in the world. While we are a powerful nation, and one that has resources to help others, we find ourselves tied up in wars with the intention of spreading democracy.

What is so exceptional about starting wars we can’t afford and getting innocent people caught in the crossfire? We tear up nations to further our own ends, and we manage to make ourselves feel really damn good about it. Somehow we have convinced ourselves that this is our duty as Americans. We are convinced that we need to police the world, keep everything in order when we can’t even keep our own damn country from shutting down based on petty squabbles.

There should be more outrage about this. There should be more concern for our own fellow Americans who are working two jobs to support their families, and still can’t afford to live. We should be rioting in the streets about our government spying on us, and yet we don’t. It’s more comfortable to sit behind a computer screen and let it be someone else’s problem.

We wholeheartedly buy into the lie that is American Exceptionalism. We believe that we have some virtue that other nations lack. That God himself came down from heaven and gave us this land to honor and glorify his name with. This is not the case. We earned this land. We gave our blood, American blood, so that we could tear ourselves away from tyranny and rule ourselves. Sometimes we stole it, but for the most part we fought for America.

Our founding fathers didn’t believe that a two party system should exist. When Franklin began to support one party, Scottish philosopher David Hume said, “I am surprised to learn our friend, Dr. Franklin, is a man of faction. Faction, above all, is a dangerous thing.”

When you sit and try to put our political system in perspective, use the word faction instead of party. It becomes easier to see how our nation got to the state it is in. Look at it as two factions fighting each other for control, both unwilling to compromise on their beliefs. They assassinate each other’s character, spending billions of dollars to make sure they are the one in power. It’s a mostly bloodless war, but a war that’s being fought nonetheless.

We, the people, are left sitting on the sidelines of a war being fought in our name. Being told to stay in line and do as we’re told. We are being told to believe in a government that no longer has our best interests at heart. We are letting people who make more in a year than some do in a lifetime decide what is best for us.  We are letting them make decisions that benefit the wealthy and damage the lives of the poor. We are convinced that our elected representatives are really looking out for us when they have only one thing on their mind, the almighty dollar.

It doesn’t have to be this way, though. We are at a tipping point. We will be given a chance to reclaim what made us great, and hopefully learn how to prevent the corruption of the American Dream from happening again. It’s not going to be an easy fight, those in charge are happy in their comfortable “jobs.” Our representatives, those that we elect to represent us and what we want, don’t want things to change. They want to continue to increase their wealth by playing our system to their advantage. They don’t care about casualties; they are willing to let other Americans slip through the cracks.

We are an exceptional nation, exceptionally greedy, exceptionally corrupt, and exceptionally ruthless in the way we treat our fellow Americans. I don’t want America to be remembered as the nation that destroyed itself from the inside.

We should be remembered as the nation that overcame itself to be better than any other nation in the world. We should be remembered for our fight against corruption and bringing America back to being a nation that works hard to be better than anyone else. It’s not too late.