The Culture War Divide: American Exceptionalism

With the stunning announcement of his pending retirement, Evan Bayh – only recently on the short list to be Barack Obama’s running mate in 2008 – the question of partisanship has once again become central to our national debate.

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The conventional wisdom is that it is mere partisanship that is hampering the progress of necessary legislation in Washington (and in state capitols as well). This is a both wrong and dangerous conclusion, one that misses the real and important point: Americans are divided not just on policy but on their most basic beliefs about the most fundamental of issues, from the nature of man to the meaning of our existence, from the reality of God to the purpose of governance – and at its core, it is a question of one’s beliefs about the existence of the better.

Proof that our divisions run deeper than a mere “hooray for our side” partisanship is that the culture war is raging outside of the halls of governance, with people with no vested interest in the victory of an “R” or a “D” just as adamant and even militant as are the professionals.

In today’s culture war, what determines whether one supports the liberal or the conservative position on any given issue is what they believe about exceptionalism in general and American exceptionalism (and that of Western Civilization) in particular.

On one side of the battlefield are those who reject the notion of cultural exceptionalism. They are the “multiculturalists” and the “Citizens of the world” who are convinced that those who recognize America’s unique greatness are not only bigots (“xenophobes” and “nativists”) but dangerous bigots whose blind adoration of America’s unique culture can only lead to war and with it the poverty, crime and injustice that war inevitably brings.

Ironically, those who deny America’s unprecedented cultural greatness are forced to believe in American exceptionalism – left with no other choice than to believe that America is exceptionally evil. After all, if America’s unique constitution, unprecedented Judeo-Christian values and unequalled Protestant work ethic are no better and no worse than any other culture, then one must explain America’s undeniable and unequalled success. To their way of “thinking,” America’s unparalleled prosperity, ingenuity, creativity, productivity and strength are not just unjustified and unjust, but because of the magnitude and duration of that success, America is the greatest injustice in the history of the world.

To those who deny America’s exceptional greatness the only other alternative is to believe in America’s exceptional evil.

The purpose of the policy of those with this vision, then, is to pursue justice by undermining America at every turn. Her sovereignty should be turned over to one-world (supposedly non-bigoted) bodies, her wealth redistributed to nations based on nothing other than their violence and economic failures. After all, to the multiculturalists the failures of other nations serve as proof positive of their victimization.

To those who deny America’s exceptionalism, those who support America (especially those so steeped in bigotry and hatred as to join the military to fight for America’s preservation) can fall into only a handful of categories: so oppressed that they have no choice but to fight on behalf of evil in order to pay their bills, the stupid and the evil bigot. Those who deny American exceptionalism, then, hold the soldier in pity at best and more likely disdain and hate.

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It is not surprising, then, that those who hold this vision are quick to condemn anyone who works in service of America, from members of the CIA to the soldiers shot to death by an Islamist at Ft. Hood.

Similarly, those who champion American values at home are held in disgust and disdain by those who deny America’s exceptionalism. They, too, are, at best, stupid and more likely evil bigots who must be contained, their children “reeducated” in the schools to reject their xenophobic love of America and her culture. These people are convinced that there’s something “the matter” with the people of Kansas and that Americans outside of San Francisco (Hollywood, Cambridge, Massachusetts and the Upper East Side of Manhattan) “cling” to their constitutional rights and religious freedoms out of “antipathy” towards people who are merely “different” than they are. These people must be controlled by an elite who does not share their bigotry (i.e. respect and adoration for America and Western Civilization): the “multiculturalists” and the “citizens of the world.”

Barack Obama has publicly declared that he is of this ilk, that he does not believe that America is anything special. Asked if he believes in American exceptionalism he gave one of his typically dissembling answers, claiming that he did, but then quickly adding that he was sure “The British believe in British exceptionalism and the Greek believe in Greek exceptionalism.” In other words, he believes America is “exceptional” not based on reason and a quest for the better, but merely because of his own bigotries and the accident of his location of birth.

It is not surprising, then, that the one constant of the Obama administration has been to weaken America, to take for the elite (the ruling class) unprecedented powers (including decision-making about who will and will not get loans, control of our essential industries and, if he gets his way, every aspect of our health and well-being), nor is it surprising that he has consistently worked to weaken and ultimately destroy our Western allies and embolden, strengthen and empower each and every one of our enemies. Obviously, then, it is without regard to the letter next to his name, that those who recognize American and Western exceptionalism, who cherish America’s constitution not out of bigotry but out of intellect, who wish to educate their children in a way that preserves for them the opportunities that America’s exceptional culture has provided generation after generation of Americans (including those tens of millions who have renounced their native cultures and risked all to become Americans) stand in strong (and unflinching) opposition to the policies of today’s Left.

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