On Bedrock American Beliefs
In reading Kimberley A. Strassel’s Wall Street Journal column, “Four Little Words” (h/t Barticles), I was struck by this line:
In addition to “you didn’t build that,” the president also put down those who think they are “smarter” or “work harder” than others. Witness the first president to demean the bedrock American beliefs in industriousness and exceptionalism.
When did “exceptionalism” become a “bedrock American belief”?
At some point, we’ve got to decide which version of America we like better. Do we like the America of Strassel and Romney where some people are simply “exceptional”? Where some people have some intrinsic quality that makes them superior to other people? Where gross inequality is something to celebrate?
Or do we believe the words of the Declaration of Independence—that all men are created equal?
I like free enterprise. So does Obama. So does Elizabeth Warren. I firmly believe that we need to ensure that industriousness leads to opportunity—and that those opportunities are available ot everybody. This is the core of the American Dream.
When did “exceptionalism” creep into this? The idea that I’m entitled to more wealth and more opportunities because I was somehow intrinsically superior is anathema to actual bedrock American beliefs.
I understand why the far right feels it needs to wrap itself in the American flag and refuse to apologize for anything. It’s posturing. A facade. If you scratch the surface, the commitment to the American values of equality and opportunity have rotted away.