The Importance Of American Exceptionalism

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Throughout American history, our presidents have changed the implications by the meaning of American exceptionalism. Originally coined to mean the United States has a unique position to create a better world, the term soon morphed into an excuse to force our beliefs onto other nations. In its purest form, American exceptionalism serves as an urging for the United States to go and help nations who ask for it, and it is our duty to respond. However, various administrations have morphed this message to imply that the United States is the pinnacle of “good”, and any nation who is not following our system is “evil”. This view leads to a dangerous international affairs, and the perception Americans have of the world. John F. Kennedy in his 1961…show more content…
His 1981 inaugural address focused on the economics of the United States rather than a global view as seen in Kennedy’s. At the time of Reagan’s 1981 inauguration, American hostages were being held in Iran. His lack of global perspective in his speech was odd considering the importance of the Iran situation. American exceptionalism, in its original meaning, under Reagan was not widely used. He saw America as a shining example of freedom, rather than a country with an obligation to step in and help. At this time of global crisis with the Cold War at its peak, Reagan took a step inward, focusing on America. This can be understood by Reagan’s continued belief that big government is the problem rather than a solution. Kennedy aimed to be involved in global affairs, while Reagan wanted to focus on the United States, therefore ignoring the original concept of American exceptionalism. Ironically, the term American exceptionalism became most popular during the Reagan era. Reagan also used American exceptionalism as an excuse to support the Nicaraguans in the Iran-Contra Affair, despite his general lack of participation in American exceptionalism. In his 1981 inaugural address, Reagan says “to those neighbors and allies who share our freedom, we will strengthen our historic ties and assure them of our support and firm commitment. We will match loyalty with loyalty. We will strive for mutually beneficial relations. We…show more content…
His position starkly contrasts with the previous administrations’ concepts of American exceptionalism. By focusing on domestic issues, Trump ignores the important role the United States has in global affairs. He discusses jobs, the economy, immigration, trade, and taxes, but all in a purely domestic sphere. Trump briefly mentions international military and terrorism, however, does not offer his support to any struggling nation. He is not interested in helping other countries, and would rather focus on domestic affairs. This preference most likely stems from his business background with limited experience in governmental global affairs. Trump most accurately explains his position, “we will follow two simple rules: Buy American and Hire American. We will seek friendship and good will with the nations of the world, but to do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first” (Trump). Trump is not extending a helping hand to countries, but simply asking for friendship. This lack of American exceptionalism in his position support isolationist views. His slogan of “Make America Great Again” coupled with campaign promises of keeping “American” ideals, shows an anti-globalization belief. Since the United States was founded by immigrants and outside ideals, the opposition to globalization and the sharing of ideas seems absurdly

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