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PUTIN & OBAMA ARE WRONG: Here’s What We Mean by “American Exceptionalism”

Russia’s often-shirtless authoritarian strongman Vladimir Putin tells America that it’s “extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional.”

Obviously, that’s a gross distortion of what we mean when we say “America is exceptional” in world history.

We are not saying the American people are inherently better than people anywhere else. We are saying the American system — of government bound by law — is exceptional, and allowed liberty and the spirit of enterprise to flourish, thus allowing America to quickly become the richest nation in world history.

Of course, Obama has also often mocked the idea of “American Exceptionalism” — for example, famously saying this shocker at a NATO Summit in Strasbourg, France, in 2009:

“I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.”

No doubt, America is rapidly losing the distinction of being exceptional in today’s world – thanks to Obama and the Left in Congress not understanding what made America so exceptional.

So other countries are passing us by. The United States has fallen from #1 to #10 on the Heritage Foundation’s world index of Economic Freedom — now behind even Socialistic Canada and Denmark.

But America is exceptional in world history because America was the first nation to be “conceived in liberty.”

America is exceptional because of its Constitution.

America is exceptional because it’s the first country in world history to establish a government,  the sole purpose of which is to “secure the blessings of liberty.”

America is exceptional because it was the first nation in human history to put such strict limits on the power of the central government.

America is exceptional because it is the first (and is still the only) nation in human history to be founded on this proposition:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Our rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are “unalienable” because they are granted by God Himself. And it’s the responsibility of government to protect and secure these rights.

When government trespasses beyond this purpose, its activities become illegitimate.

That proposition, this purpose of government — to secure the blessings of liberty — is what makes America exceptional in world history.

As a result of all the limitations on government power imposed by the Constitution, Americans were free to build businesses and profit from their efforts. This allowed America to become the richest nation in world history in a very short period of time.

To the extent other countries are now enjoying liberty and prosperity, it’s because they followed the American example.

If America is no longer exceptional, it’s because our government has mostly ignored the Constitution for the past 90 years or so — since the Presidency of Calvin Coolidge (the last President who actually cut federal spending in real dollars). He really was a great President.

Calvin Coolidge loved to read through the entire federal budget — line by line . . . so he could cross items out of the budget.  He often said nothing gave him more pleasure than saving taxpayers money.

Mostly what our elected leaders do (Democrats and Republicans) is look for ways to get around the Constitution — if they pay any attention at all to the Constitution.

Our political leaders in Washington, DC (not just Obama) respect few limits on government power.

Our political class today treats the Constitution as a set of guidelines, at best — not as law.

I believe America is still exceptional because we at least still have the Constitution — which is still supposed to be the supreme law of the land. We just need to get back to following the Constitution.

America also has an exceptional history that gave us advantages that other counties have not had.

America was settled by courageous people who had a pioneering spirit.

It takes a certain type of person to leave their family, friends, and familiar lives behind and travel to a new land, a wilderness, in search of freedom and opportunity.

Arriving on the shores of a desolate and freezing Cape Code in November of 1620, half the  passengers on the Mayflower died during the first winter.

The tens of millions of settlers and immigrants who followed them here did not expect anything from the government — certainly were not looking for handouts and free health care.  All they wanted was freedom to build a new life.

That takes courage.  America was built by risk-takers.

By the time of the American Revolution in 1776, Americans had already become the world’s richest people — because of their entrepreneurial spirit.

America’s thriving shipbuilding, tea, tobacco, and rum businesses were out-competing those of the British Empire — which was what led to Britain’s crackdown on American industry (i.e. the heavy tax on tea that triggered the Boston Tea Party, the Stamp Tax, and other taxes).

America is exceptional because we actually fought a war against the British Empire (the largest empire in world history) over excessive taxation.

How many people have done that?  What would have America’s founders thought of ObamaCare?

No doubt, they would have seen ObamaCare as a abomination — an all-out assault on liberty, exponentially worse than the tax on tea that lit the fuse of the American Revolution.

America is exceptional because we used to zealously guard our liberties.  For the Americans of that day, no attack on liberty was too slight to overlook.  ”Give me liberty, or give me death!” declared Patrick Henry.

That was the American mindset in 1776.

If America is losing its distinction as exceptional in the world, it’s because most Americans today don’t seem all that concerned about liberty anymore. Most Americans pay little attention to politics.   Internet page-view data reveals Americans to be 12 times more interested in Miley Cyrus‘ “Twerking” display than war with Syria or what our government is doing to us.

The problem is not so much Putin not thinking America is exceptional. We would not expect the former Soviet KGB thug to value liberty.

The problem is we now have an American President who agrees with Putin — that America is not exceptional.

President Obama has made it clear throughout his political career that he has little respect for our Constitution — or even the rule of law.

When Bret Baier of FOX News asked President Obama about the subversion of the legislative process President Obama and the Democrats engaged in to pass ObamaCare into law by one vote in the U.S. Senate, President Obama said: “I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what the procedural rules are.”

Obama doesn’t seem to understand that what makes America so exceptional is that we are a nation governed by laws, not men.  We are a nation of rules, not rulers — and that these laws (rules) are supposed to apply equally to everyone.

No one — not even Obama — is supposed to be above the law.  All Americans — including Obama — are supposed to follow the rules.

Obama is not so keen on this.

When in the state legislature in Illinois, Obama openly expressed his hostility to our Constitution in a radio interview when he called our Constitution “flawed.”

He went on to say:

“I think we can say that the Constitution reflected an enormous blind spot in this culture that carries on until this day, and that the Framers had that same blind spot . . . It also reflected the fundamental flaw of this country that continues to this day.”

In another radio interview, Obama said this:

“As radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution.”

So President Obama has made it clear that he considers the Constitution to be a flawed charter for government. He says he wants to “break free” from the restraints the Constitution places on government power.

To Obama and most on the Left, the Constitution is an inconvenient obstacle they try to get around.

Obama does not believe in liberty or limited Constitutional government. And he has shown himself to be no fan of the American Dream.

He’s certainly no fan of capitalism — which is the most powerful force in world history to create wealth and lift people out of poverty.

President Obama is the first President in America’s history who does not believe in “American Exceptionalism.”

He promised in 2008 that he would “fundamentally transform” America.

In his mind, America’s heritage of liberty and limited government is not worth conserving.

Instead, Obama wants to “fundamentally transform” America into his vision of a European-Bloomberg-style socialistic Nanny State (or worse) — far removed from the pioneering “spirit of enterprise” that made America so rich, so free, and so successful.

By the way, can you really love something that you want to “fundamentally transform“?

If I told my wife I’m out to “fundamentally transform” her, I doubt she would take that as a compliment. We’d probably be headed for divorce court.

So if our own President Obama doesn’t think America’s heritage of liberty is exceptional and worth protecting, why would we expect better from the shirtless KGB thug Putin?

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Life, Liberty, & Pursuit of Happiness is Exceptional; Not Empire

Ben Hart makes an excellent restatement of the values of the Founders in the new world's departure from old world's entanglements of empire. We are a nation conceived in liberty with the declared and unalienable rights from our Creator of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Despite the unnecessary Cold War rhetoric ("KGB thug"), Hart should understand that Pres. Putin rightfully judges this country not just by what Pres. Obama says but, more importantly, by what our country does.

Hart, in "Declaration" spirit, writes

Therein lies the rub. It is American interventionists (neocons?) who continue to abuse "exceptionalism" to "justify" illegitimate preemptive war by dictate. And, in a Kafka-esque post Cold War we have a Russian president reminding us of our Declaration values of "all men are created equal"!