by Robert Curry
In his splendid little book American Exceptionalism, Charles Murray reminds us it was foreigners who took the lead in claiming Americans are different:
For whatever else these observers might say about the United States, they all agreed on one thing: the United States was quite unlike their own or any other nation. It was exceptional.
The people who came to America were different from their neighbors who stayed behind—more self-reliant, more resourceful, more willing to face great challenges in order to seize the opportunities life in America offered. America was different because Americans were different.
Most of us have a sense of that difference, I think, and when we travel to foreign lands we are often reminded of it. Everyone who has traveled abroad has his own stories. Here is a characteristic one from the American novelist John Updike:
Once, in Kenya, I was in a safari van that broke down. The driver, a black African, and the English passengers in the van sat back waiting in the dusty heat for the notified authorities to send a repairman to us. The Americans in the van, including me, though I know little about engines, insisted on popping the hood and trying to fix the machine themselves . . . the Americans were happily willing to go from being docile passengers to dynamic auto mechanics. They felt equal to the task.
For it to work, the American Idea—government by, for, and of the people under the Constitution—requires American citizens who have that certain something that sets Americans apart.
Today, the brazen attempt to steal the presidential election raises a question: will Americans sit in the back of the van waiting for the notified authorities to rescue them from this breakdown in America’s constitutional order? Or will they pop the hood and set about fixing the engine themselves because they feel equal to the task?
On the question of whether the American people are still the exceptional people of the exceptional nation, Charles Murray hedges:
America still has exceptional aspects, but we are no longer the unique outlier that amused, amazed, and bemused the rest of the world from its founding through the first half of the twentieth century.
You can’t blame him for hedging. In general, America’s elite has, as they like to say, moved on. By and large, America’s elite prefers an unexceptional America, one that can be more easily governed by them and more easily inserted into the transnational global order they are planning.
Barack Obama spoke for all of the members of the elite who take him as their focal point—the New York Times, the professoriate, Hollywood, the Big Tech Masters of the Universe, and all the rest—when he dismissed the idea of an exceptional America with these words:
I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.
Plainly, he doesn’t believe in America, the exceptional nation, at all. Many of the people who occupy America’s commanding heights share Obama’s scorn for the idea of an exceptional America. They consider themselves to be citizens of the post-American world. That world does not yet exist but it is their heart’s desire and they believe it is inevitable. Because they believe it is inevitable, they feel justified in doing whatever will hurry it along, including stealing this election. And they want the rest of us to shut up about them stealing this election and just “move on.”
But although the ruling elite has moved on, many Americans remain firmly rooted in the American Idea. Will enough Americans recognize that the Democrats believe their century-long effort to get rid of the American Constitution is about to be rewarded with ultimate victory—and will enough Americans make every effort to make sure that does not happen?
We’ll soon know the answer.
I’m betting on America the exceptional and its exceptional people, but whether your gut tells you we are going to win or that the best we can hope for is to go down fighting, I urge you to get in the fight. We can all do our part to make every effort to light a fire under Republican officials, demanding that they fight with everything they have. The Republicans need to get real and put up the kind of all-out political fight that can save them from political extinction, and save the Constitution while they are at it. You know what you can do to help. Do it, I beseech you.
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Robert Curry serves on the board of directors of the Claremont Institute and is the author of Common Sense Nation: Unlocking the Forgotten Power of the American Idea and Reclaiming Common Sense: Finding Truth in a Post-Truth World. Both are from Encounter Books.
Photo “Trump Supporters” by Anthony Crider. CC BY 2.0.