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Exceptional AmericaWhat Divides Americans from the World and from Each Other$
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Mugambi Jouet

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520293298

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520293298.001.0001

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One Nation, Divisible

One Nation, Divisible

(p.19) One One Nation, Divisible
Exceptional America

Mugambi Jouet

University of California Press

The misconception that “exceptionalism” means American superiority stems from how Republicans turned this longstanding concept into a rhetorical weapon against Obama by accusing him of unpatriotically lacking faith in “American exceptionalism” given his “socialist” and “un-American” agenda. These accusations paralleled conspiracy theories claiming that Obama is not really American due to his fake U.S. birth certificate and Islamism. Meanwhile, intense polarization became a major dimension of American exceptionalism’s true meaning. The huge rift between conservatives and liberals under George W. Bush worsened under Obama. It may grow worse following the Clinton-Trump presidential election. Intriguingly, America and other Western nations are moving apart and closer at the same time. While liberal America is mainly evolving in the same direction as the rest of the West, conservative America is an outlier in light of its peculiar ideology, including profound anti-intellectualism, anti-governmentalism, and Christian fundamentalism. Liberal America’s worldview is not simply different from the worldview in conservative America, but also closer to the dominant worldview elsewhere in the West: Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Tellingly, universal health care is broadly supported by both liberals and conservatives in all Western nations except America, where Republicans relentlessly denounce the evils of “socialized medicine.”

Keywords:   American Exceptionalism, Polarization, Conservatism, Trump, Tea Party, Republican Party, Obama, Clinton, European Politics

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