Cory Leonard

American Exceptionalism in a Political Season

In politics on October 26, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Nothing wrong with loving your country. But when it becomes an absolute–or uncritial proposition, we limit our capacity for real dialogue about real problems. American politics become a campaign in perpetuity. (Tell that to swing states right now

This national characteristic, often labeled American exceptionalism, may inspire some people and politicians to perform heroically, rising to the level of our self-image. But during a presidential campaign, it can be deeply dysfunctional, ensuring that many major issues are barely discussed. Problems that cannot be candidly described and vigorously debated are unlikely to be addressed seriously. In a country where citizens think of themselves as practical problem-solvers and realists, this aversion to bad news is a surprising feature of the democratic process.

“I think there’s more of a tendency now than in the past to avoid discussion of serious problems,” says Allan J. Lichtman, a political historian at American University. “It has a pernicious effect on our politics and on governing, because to govern, you need a mandate. And you don’t get a mandate if you don’t say what you’re going to do.”

via Candidates and the Truth About America – NYTimes.com.

 

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