The Evolution of American Exceptionalism Essay

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The meaning of American exceptionalism has evolved, but the era of American exceptionalism as a providential mission is drawing to a close. The meaning of American exceptionalism has evolved from the two definitions of “unique” and “special” to include an appointed mission and has been used to justify action and consolidate people around ideas. The U.S. went from identifying itself as an exemplar nation for the world to emulate, to creating an interventionist mission of exceptionalism. Today “American exceptionalism” is a term of polarization that divides the right and the left in America. Alexis de Tocqueville toured America in 1831, and wrote of the uniqueness of American in relation to other nations to differentiate what was…show more content…
He applied this principle to send American troops into Mexico twice, to Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Nicaragua, and to intervene militarily twice in the Russian civil war. Intervention in World War I was framed as a just cause in idealistic terms consistent with the belief in American exceptionalism to counter the prevalent isolationism of the time. Even after the devastating military strike on Pearl Harbor silenced isolationist claims, President Franklin Roosevelt’s The "Four Freedoms" employed exceptionalsim rhetoric to justify the World War II war effort in the central ideas of American political culture. During the Cold War, capitalism was cast as American liberty engaged in a battle against the tyranny of communism and justifying international expansion. Peans of American greatness and appeals to America's distinctive history were a direct and deliberate appeal to the public and a way to help silence opposition to American military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. American exceptionalism today is an incarnation of national hubris, the idea that the U.S. has a right to act in the international sphere without regard to other countries. This sort of illusory nationalism worked during the Cold War, but America’s capacity to project power in the world is slipping in the wake of two expensive wars and a global crisis engineered by Wall Street. The mythology and ideology of American exceptionalism is
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