Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Conservatives ruining 'American exceptionalism'

Beinartfeb argues convincingly that conservatives, who say they defend "American exceptionalism," are actually doing the most to destroy Americans' feeling of having a special place in the world that diverges historically and culturally from Europe.  

How?  First, because of conservatives' politicizing religion. Feelings of exceptionalism are strongest with those who attend church regularly and identify with a particular religious denomination. By politicizing religion, starting in the 1980s, conservatives have steadily turned off generations of Americans from churchy Christianity. They believe church has gotten too political.  (They're right).  We have an increasing contingent of "spiritual not religious" Americans who never hear the pastor's or televangelist's politicized sermons.

Secondly, because of Dubya. A belief in American exceptionalism goes along with an aggressive, "unapologetic" U.S. foreign policy. Thanks to Bush's avoidable debacles in Afghanistan and Iraq, two generations have been turned off from an active, interfering U.S. role in the world; and they are less likely to believe in "going it alone" and more likely to trust the UN and international institutions.

Third, because of economic inequality. Republican policies have limited class mobility, have encouraged accumulation of wealth at the top, and have made more Americans class-conscious: they are more likely to look at their country just like any other, where the Haves rule the Have-Nots -- not the land of the "American Dream" where anybody who works hard can live comfortably and even strike it rich. 

By Peter Beinartfeb
February 3, 2014 | The Atlantic

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