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Presidential Issues: American Exceptionalism

American Exceptionalism

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American Exceptionalism and the 2016 Campaign

January 22, 2016

By Peter Berkowitz

Contrasting positions on American exceptionalism go to the heart of what distinguishes the 2016 Republican presidential field from its Democratic counterpart.

However much they disagree among themselves, the pronounced tendency among Republicans—particularly Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio—is to celebrate the spirit and forms of constitutional self-government that have historically set America apart.

In contrast, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, like President Obama, are inclined to call attention to America’s flaws and failures stretching back to the nation’s founding. Inspired by a doctrine that treats unequal outcomes as evidence of political deficiency, they seek to ensure equality of result through extensive government supervision of the economy and substantial provision of entitlements—and to look to Europe for models of how to enlarge the regulatory and social welfare state.

Progressive determination to deny American exceptionalism is more in harmony with the temper of the times than conservative dedication to distinctive constitutional fundamentals. That’s because democratic beliefs and habits promote unease with the very notion of exceptionalism.

So which is it—is America exceptionally laudable or deplorably out of step with democratic norms?

Read the full article at RealClearPolitics.com: American Exceptionalism and the 2016 Campaign

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