Improvement through Abandoning American Exceptionalism

David Williams ’14, Staff Writer

Many people in the US maintain the belief that the United States is different from every other country in the world because of our beliefs and foundations. This belief, termed “American Exceptionalism”, has morphed into a way to proclaim that the United States of America is the best country in the world. However, this set of beliefs is dangerous to hold at a time when this nation is on the edge of a systematic change in the function of our government.

With the recent government shutdown, it is easy to see that at least one of the systems we rely on to run our country has fallen to a point where we can no longer claim that we have created the best government and culture in the world. By insulating ourselves in an intellectual comfort blanket, we are losing the ability to adapt our government system, economy and culture. Without looking to other countries for successful methods of dealing with the problems that have been plaguing our country recently, we cannot expect to maintain the high level of functioning that we have at least perceived during our country’s existence.

If you look at the statistics that the CIA collects and publishes in its World Fact Book, it is easy to see that the US does not have the best policies when looking at certain factors. Most damning to this perception of our supposed dominance is the fact that 15% of Americans live below the poverty line. It is clear that we have a system that is broken if we are leaving behind 15% of our country at a point when we classify them as in need of assistance to maintain their needs. While we maintain the largest economy in the world, we have a distribution of ownership of funds that is similar to that of a lesser developed nation. The United States has the 41st most concentrated income distribution in the world. The top ten percent of income earners in our country maintain 30 percent of the wealth. We have to look to other nations and their ways of promoting income distribution in order to renew the ability of the United States to continue developing our economy and maintain our standard of living.

The current strain of “American Exceptionalism” is a dangerous belief. By putting ourselves so far above the rest of the world, we prevent ourselves from realizing the policies that are best for creating the country that we envision ourselves living in as well as improving the country that we live in now.


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