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Americans No Longer Feel Exceptional

November 21, 2011 by  

Americans No Longer Feel Exceptional

The majority of American citizens seemingly no longer believe that theirs is the best Nation in the world, a recent Pew Research Center poll indicates.

The American-Western European Values Gap poll, which addressed a number of domestic policy questions, asked people in the United States, Germany, Spain, Britain and France whether they agree or disagree with the following statement:  Our people are not perfect but our culture is superior to others.

In a blow to the idea of American Exceptionalism, people in the United States are less likely than ever to feel cultural superiority. Only about 49 percent of those polled agreed with the statement as compared to 55 percent in 2007 and 60 percent in 2002. Individuals in the other countries all agreed to the statement more than 50 percent of the time; the French were most likely to feel superior with 73 percent agreement.

Belief in cultural superiority fell across age, gender and education groups in the United States, though conservatives and older Americans are far more likely to retain the concept.

The idea of American Exceptionalism can be traced back to 1831 when a French writer named Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of Americans’ exceptional circumstances and attitudes and suggested that all democratic nations be held up to the example of America in his book Democracy in America. The concept has since been credited as the catalyst behind many of the country’s finest hours of development by historians.

Sam Rolley

Staff writer Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After learning about many of the biases present in most modern newsrooms, Rolley became determined to find a position in journalism that would allow him to combat the unsavory image that the news industry has gained. He is dedicated to seeking the truth and exposing the lies disseminated by the mainstream media at the behest of their corporate masters, special interest groups and information gatekeepers.

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  • DavidL

    Is it a good thing or a bad thing to think you are superior to someone else? All cultures are ethnocentric. Pride in ones group, society or country is a valuable dynamic for society. Group cohesion for survival and progress is a good thing. Extreme ethnocentrism is a very bad and dangerous thing. I give you the classic modern example of the Nazis and the holocaust. It is one thing to believe that you are superior to all others, but quite another to then decide that the “other” must either be dominated or killed.

    Is the doctor superior to the carpenter or plumber? No. He or she is more educated and perhaps more sophisticated, but in terms of their personhood, the doctor is not. This is an important American value and, ironically, makes us exceptional in a good (healthy) way.

    • skyraider6

      DavidL I agree, It’s all in the wording and how it’s used and how often.

      • DavidL

        Yes sir.

      • s c

        skyraider6, it’s best to be wary of people who use pc terms when they don’t have the guts to be honest in a conversation. When some of America’s premiere bonehead race card specialists go on a rant, it’s easy to see what they’re doing. When wannabe communists call others fascists, it’s because that practice comes straight from Lenin (he said either you’re a communist or you’re a fascist).
        America did things faster than all other nations, and as a result, we were the envy of the world and prosperous, too. Over the last 90 years or so, we’ve been crippled by politicians whose agendas don’t include freedom or a chance to better ourselves.
        DL is comparing America to Hitler’s WWII Germany. At that point, skyraider6, you should have smelled a rat. Ask DL what his politics are. Whether he realizes it or not, skyraider6, DL is a utopian plant. You’re talking about apples. DL is talking about road apples. Trust, but confirm, skyraider6.
        Not all of our ‘friends’ are our friends, and they show up on this website on a regular basis.

    • bob wire

      Myself, I see it as a “bad” thing David and always have. It’s contemptible in nature and breeds the same. Tolerated in small doses perhaps but there are limits and limitations where it goes beyond self-serving.

      • DavidL

        Yes. It’s both healthy and unhealthy depending upon the degree wot which it is carried. With respect to our relationships with others, I prefer the word acceptance rather than tolerance.I tolerate you is offensive. I accept you is not.

        • bob wire

          agreed, but then “taking offense” is a personal choice that one “elects” to do. Then too, one can be tolerated without being accepted. So we are getting into areas of “political correctness” if we wish to exchange one word for the other as they really don’t hold the same value.

    • bob wire

      As a civilized nation we are only 247 years old where civilized England is 1084 old.

      How might one attempt top compare the two in term of good and bad?

      “England became a unified state in AD 927, and since the Age of Discovery, which began during the 15th century, has had a significant cultural and legal impact on the wider world.[9] The English language, the Anglican Church, and English law—the basis for the common law legal systems of many other countries around the world—developed in England, and the country’s parliamentary system of government has been widely adopted by other nations.[10] The Industrial Revolution began in 18th-century England, transforming its society into the world’s first industrialized nation.[11] England’s Royal Society laid the foundations of modern experimental science.”

      • DavidL

        I believe the point of any comparison should be on the basis of it’s performance and results, and not a superior/inferior point of view. Are the British superior to all others? They say yes. Americans say no.

    • wandamurline

      What I got from the article is that we, as Americans, do not feel that we are better than anyone else, it simply means that we are proud of our accomplishments, and we believe in the foundation that was installed by our forefathers as a Republic, one of patriotism and love of country. It is not and has never been the people of America who start wars, nor send the message that we are superior. Our armed forces are superior and this is the reason we are still a free nation. I believe that America is exceptional in the fact that we have the best country in the world in which to live, if it were not so, then why would so many people from around the world continue to come to live in this country. I am proud to be exceptional.

      • surgeont

        Of all the comments that wax on eloquently about international egos, your comment laid it out the best.
        you clicked with me as the others seem to engage in intellectual defense values.

    • http://n/a Jim

      I think the point the author is trying to make is not so much feeling superior but rather feeling blessed in being born here and living here. Proud of what use to be our freedom. Proud of our heritage and understanding many people do not have what we are blessed with. Understanding freedom is not free but fought and paid for!

  • m

    How could it be exceptional 40% are on welfare.
    The chinese do all the work for them they take the
    welfare check and buy those things, and groceries lots
    lots of groceries and make more babies.

  • Patriot1776

    It is the exceptionalism of America that made it the most powerful nation in the world. With the natural resources and God’s blessings we have helped society in general with our technical advancements and the spreading of democracy and ending of tyranny in countries such as Iraq and Iran. We have the best military forces, give more charitably around the world, and provide medical assistance to third world countries that have not even advanced to indoor plumbing in their thousands of years of existence. We should be proud to be Americans. Not to think that we are better than anyone else, but proud of our heritage – a mixing of races from all around the world that has transformed into a strong force. We have developed a medical system that is studied from around the world.

    Do not listen to the socialist who are trying to destroy this nation, or the president who has been appologizing for our greatness and success around the world since his unfortunate election. It is acceptable and even right to be proud to be an American. Millions of fine men and women have died to give us the right to be proud of who we are.

    • eddie47d

      We are still an exceptional nation although most Americans aren’t braggarts about it. Individual liberties are more important to our citizens than collective actions. Individuals do have a tendencies to wrap themselves up as being more important (exceptional) than the nation as a whole. After WWII we had a common bond of courageous heroism and equal hard work. Today that has changed and not all for the good. Wage discrepancies,corporate arrogance and political superiority has taken away that common bond. Instead of Americans coming together and feeling good about this nation the Elites have divided and used us to achieve their own goals. We can brag about our own morality or decency but not collectively as a nation. Another thing is all the wars we involve ourselves in with claims of superiority and “helping others”. The problem is that those wars are not helping our image in the world. They not only make the world leery of us but it drains our ability to feel good about our endeavors. That steals our exceptionalism and places it on hold. Take Germany as an example where they caused alot of anxiety throughout the world during their wars. They were hated for a couple of decades or more. Now they are a European powerhouse and feel good about themselves (exceptionalism). They were down and then rebounded and America can do the same.

  • Dagney

    American Exceptionalism means this country is the EXCEPTION to others. That’s all. It is not arrogance, it’s fact. Whereas all other countries throughout history are, and have always bee ruled in tyranny, America has not been, by and large. If we allow tyranny to complete its march on us, we will no longer be the exception to the rule.

    Progressives call themselves the enlightened ones. However, their policies and opinions are nothing but the same ole, same ole tyrannical governance that has KILLED millions of people and aborted innovation and progress.

    America’s respect for the individual is TRUE PROGRESS into a humane society and must never be defeated.

  • Polski

    The United States was exceptional until about 10 years after WWII. It has decayed and regressed frightningly since then.

  • http://liberyalearts john p.

    JAIL .

  • stevor

    You’re okay. I’m okay. Everybody is okay. Let’s not actually compete with one another and let’s give everybody a “participation” ribbon because some (who are lazy or just inept, sometimes through no fault of their own) ought not have their egos knocked down.

    If you want to have exceptionalism, you need WINNERS (of the real kind)!

  • Mark

    Over recent years it’s been easily and clearly established that America is one of the most strongly disliked countries in the world – even by those who would be considered your friends! As an Australian, I can tell you Americans that the major reason for this is the attitude of superiority that always comes out of your country: you have the best of this, and are the best at that, and you sadly THINK that you are the best. You’re not.

    Rather than being exceptional, this smacks of a kind of arrogance and superiority that none of us can stand. Countries around the world, good and bad, basically hate you for this. Not hate individuals who are decent people with no superiority attitude, but the country that openly touts itself as “the best”. I repeat: you’re not.

    At the moment you are slowly destroying your own country and from there the rest of the world. I would have thought that the fact that the naked greed of your elite and leaders that brought on the first Global Financial Crisis would have taught you something, but it seems not. Instead of exceotional, you’ve allowed powerful people to take over and destroy your nation. Soon there’ll be no exceptionalism left – either for you, or for us all.

    You’re now not more exceptional than the next country or the next or the next. Stop thinking like that – it’s so destructive. But there’s a ton of evidence that it’s now too late to save America, which I could hope would help you to learn that considering yourself superior to all of us has NOT paid off. Not at all! For this, however, I’m sorry for you, and sorry for America!

    Best wishes to all those reading this!

    • America the Beautiful

      *Mark^ If America is one of the most hated countries. why are so many people from all parts of the world trying to come here?

      Islamic countries hate all parts of the world, if their faith is anything but Islamic. This is why some are thinking America is hated, consider how many countries in the world today are having trouble with Islamic and other factions of terrorism.

  • Poorgrandchildren

    Alexis de Tocqueville should have written about how our REPUBLIC created exceptional circumstances and attitudes. Our “wonderful democracy” is a lie pushed by the (not-progresive) Regressive Movement since the early 1900s.

  • hitthedeck

    To feel exceptional as a citizen of the United States you must feel that you have a voice that can be heard by a government that represents upholding your freedoms and your pursuit of happiness. A humble man can have piece of mine and know that he can support his family live within his means. He can remain humble when he knows that his government is behind him and not in front of him. We are in a transformation in this country and the government has got so far ahead of where it should be that it has forgotten the meaning of being exceptional. Citizens will no longer remain humble and are starting to rebel. We know the way to become exceptional is to put government behind us.

  • http://n/a yorm


  • ICE

    American Exceptionalism is alive and well. GOD chose to make us execptional by blessing Manasseh. If you don’t understand read about the sons of Joseph. If BO thinks we are not execptional it is because he is still a mohommedist. And wants the USA to be weak and give up Israel to the “New World Order” the Calaphate. This will be under Sharia Law, NOT GOOD. This nation is going to go through hard times for a while but will come out on the winning side. “GODS”.

    • MichSeag

      How sad it must be for Chip Wood to put so much of his life and so much of his genius behind a website that draws so many dregs to post on it’s boards……

      He must be so depressed…

    • Elainee123

      The America that I remember is gone. We will never be the same again; The reason being, we have become so wicked that we are no different than Sodom and Gomorrah. The name of JESUS CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD, has been blasphemed in this country to the extreme.Every evil thing has been said about him in movies and in art that could be said.But GOD will not be mocked;JESUS is coming back to clear his name and to destroy those who have mocked and blasphemed his name. The only way America can be restored is if “My People, who call me by name will humble themselves and Pray” then we have a chance, but that will not happen; because even the church is committing apostacy right now. Everything is just as the Bible says it will be in the Last Days. Many of you on here will laugh and make ignorant comments about what I have said; but nevertheless, this is the truth: Every Nation in past history that replaced JESUS/GOD with Communism, Fascism and Marxism failed and we will too. I don’t have to prove this, History does.

  • http://personallibertydigest Lyle McDaniell

    You only have to get your head up for fresh air and study what the superiority culture is all about. You have never seen or known of any nation that has grown to the pinacle that America has in such a short time The industerial revolution put us in world leadership, just think about how fast we responded to the second world war with technology and equipment. We supplied our allies with much needed help. We answered the call overnight. America is known around the world as a leader.Untill this last administration, the low class idiot went around the world appolajizing for being America. then so many of his tripe fell in step with him..Of course by doing his best to cover us up with third world dependants for votes and giving them our rights they will agree America is not exceptional. If we could get this country back to the same culture as the pre 60s and teach who we really are , and purge the country of all illegal immigrants this country could show this last 2 generations of brain children what it would be to live in a real exceptional America. Any more of this mess you will be able to relate to the Congo or worse..

  • http://none RPaul or same ol’

    Purge the country of all illegal immigrants? When illegal immigrants open their P.O. box, the FIRST thing in there is a check from DHHS. I just can’t see the purge happening, but I could be wrong.

  • John Lilleburns ghost

    Americans ARE still known for being exceptional all around the world. They are known to be exceptionally FAT. Thats about it these days.
    The rest of the world doesnt believe its not our fault either they think its cos we’re a very greedy bunch with no self discipline. They’re right. America; full of fat, lazy, greedy people whio won’t take responsibility for themselves.

  • James

    I would say our loss of worldly respect is do to our warmongering. North Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Libya and Iran were no threat to the United States. We dropped 2 to 3 times the bombs that we droped on Germany in WWII, on Vietnam killing 3.4 million men, women and children. That doesn’t earn the world’s respect. It ruined LBJ’s chances for re-election.


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