American Exceptionalism

Recently Vladimir Putin, Russian President, wrote a letter to the American people. In it he cautioned Obama on the use of the word "exceptionalism" to describe us.

Quotes from his letter are:

"It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal."

Many, on both sides of the political "aisle" took unbrage at Putin's remarks. And, as a source of national pride, we all would disagree with Putin's characterization. But, should we fully disagree with him? After all, Putin did not say we were "NOT" exceptional; he cautioned Obama not to encourage a belief that we are. There is a difference. So, let's take a closer look:

The exceptionalism of the American people truly is what made The United States of America the greatest nation the world have ever experienced. I would argue that much of what made us great is disappearing rapidly.

We became great through personal pride, personal reliance, our collective work ethic, our collective support to those in need locally, nationally, and internationally, as well as our desire to make of ourselves, individually, the very best our innate talents could muster.

Today, as we gaze across the landscape of our collective approach to the 'American Way Of Life', we see a different setting than in years past.

Our inner, urban cities are a cesspool of gangs, crime and violence; 50% of our people pay no income tax, 65 million of our citizens are on welfave, food stamps, and/or unemployment insurance; as of September 2011 there were 400,540 children in foster care; over 30% of white children, 50% of hispanic children, and 70% of black children are born to unwed mothers, the number of persons giving up looking for work due to no jobs available grows daily, a national debt that is at the very real point of being not sustainable still grows; a reliance on the "state" to provide for our needs rather than ourselves steadily increases; and a host of other attributes not truly supportive of "exceptionalism".

Are there exceptional Americans? Of course - as are there in any country you can name. But, the discussion here centers around the American people as a whole. The conditions cited in the above paragraph do not lend themselves to the perception of "exceptionalism" as it has been historically known in our great land.

The negative characteristics cited seem to have gained momentum over the last 5 years. Now, it is easy to blame Obama for this. Doing so, however, would be a disservice to the truth. Our slide "from grace", as it were, began many, many years before. The last 5 years only have seen an acceleration of the downward spiral.

Our total, collective goal as the American People should be to reverse the trends and move toward true, unassailable exceptionalism - as once was our reality.

Many in the media and political circles have made Putin's none too stellar reputation from his KGB days as the focal point of their ire. These criticisms, while arguably (depending on who you are) accurate, do not make him wrong, per se. What Putin wrote was hurtful to many in this country - not because he was wrong, but because he was correct.