Time to End American Exceptionalism

I’m beginning to think the underlying flaw in the United States is a kind of schismogenesis rooted in American Exceptionalism. Schismogenesis is a term for the way groups – including countries – define themselves against other similar groups or countries. The classic example is Athens and Sparta in ancient Greece.

The United States has always defined itself as different from every other country in the world. So when someone looking at our current political mess mentions, say, Weimer Germany, the response is “we’re different,” followed by a list of differences.

We’re “special,” which is just another way to say “it can’t happen here.”

Sinclair Lewis’s novel of that name got at the heart of the very real fascist dangers of the 1930s. The book’s still relevant, for all that it is rooted in the world of the 1930s.

Because we’re not different or special here in the United States. We’re very much like other countries. Our big advantage has always been wealth but we’re far from the first country to become powerful because we had a stranglehold on a lot of resources.

We put a lot of faith in the rule of law, in our institutions, and in our Constitution. But the Constitution is not the perfect document we’re taught to revere, especially in the legal profession, and our institutions have been severely weakened.

The rule of law seems to be hanging by a thread.

And let’s not forget we had a very nasty civil war and left many issues from it unresolved.

Right now in the United States we have an upcoming presidential election in which a candidate from one of our two major political parties — the only ones that matter — is under multiple indictments for things related to the security of the country and the undermining of our political system and has also been found liable civilly for financial grifting and sexual assault.

This person — this grifter now selling bibles as well as sneakers — has declared he intends to be a dictator, and his enablers are plotting an authoritarian government that, among many other things, intends to put women and Black people “in their place.” (Not just women and Black people, but given the history of the country, that’s at the core of the right wing extremist planning.)

The odds that this grifter is beholden to oligarchs from other parts of the world are also pretty high.

But the assumption underlying this election is that the American people have the “right” to choose a president who intends to destroy our country. Continue reading “Time to End American Exceptionalism”