American exceptionalism

  • No, Liberal Historians Can't Tame Nationalism

    by Eran Zelnik

    Liberal historians confronted with both right-wing nationalism and renewed "history wars" have tried to thread a needle by telling a positive story of nationalism. The author contends the exclusionary and belligerent aspects of nationalism can't be domesticated by surrounding them with the right narrative.

  • America *IS* Exceptional. It's Not a Good Thing

    by Aviva Chomsky

    The climate emergency requires Americans to reject the nation's exceptional consumption of resources and hoarding of wealth in favor of a political economy that enables a global good life for all within the limits of the planet. 

  • The Threat of the US Becoming an "Anocracy" Again? Civil War

    by Barbara F. Walter

    Anocracies combine the superficial trappings of democracy, like elections, with the suppression of civil liberties and the press and the hardening of factions in place of a common civic culture. By some measures, the US is now an anocracy, like Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. 

  • The New Comedy of American Decline

    Two new comedy series revisit the trope of the American abroad; one works because it looks critically, if humorously, at the idea of American exceptionalism. 

  • Is America a Myth?

    Writer Robin Wright looks to historians Richard Kreitner and Colin Woodard to explain that the idea of a unified American nation has not been the historical norm. 

  • But Why Is America Exceptional?

    by Guy Chet

    Political separation from Britain allowed old English traits to remain preserved in America, like a bug in amber, even as they were whittled away by change in the old country. 

  • Will a Pandemic Shatter the Perception of American Exceptionalism?

    Historians including David Kennedy, Andrew Bacevich, David Oshinsky and Wilfred McClay discuss whether the idea of American uniqueness has hurt national preparedness for an epidemic, if it will help or hinder recovery, and if the COVID-19 crisis will dislodge the idea from popular consciousness.

  • The Tangled History of Illness and Idiocy

    by Jessi Jezewska Stevens

    Opining in public on things you don’t really understand is a form of idiocy in which Americans, in particular, are known to indulge.

  • Winthrop's "City" Was Exceptional, Not Exceptionalist

    by Jim Sleeper

    There are compelling anthropological reasons why almost every society in history has invented “special covenant” and “origin” myths, or “constitutive fictions.” 

  • Donald Trump and the Death of American Exceptionalism

    by Jelani Cobb

    The problem of Trump is not simply that his opinions far exceed his knowledge; it’s that what he does know is so hostile to democracy, not only in the Republican Party or the United States but in the world.

  • Did the Founding Fathers Believe In American Exceptionalism?

    by Sheldon Stern

    Like John Adams, they were for the most part confident that the new United States was on the cusp of a brilliant future. But they did not believe that Americans, as a people, were exempt from the flaws and faults of other nations and peoples.

  • Obama’s New Patriotism

    by Greg Jaffe

    How Obama has used his presidency to redefine ‘American exceptionalism’