The issues in Ukraine right now remind me of a class discussion and a paper I just had to write in my Current American Politics class with Professor James Carville, the “Ragin’ Cajun.” We had to defend or oppose American exceptionalism and say what we think it means.
Many people brought up all of the U.S.’s faults and complained about how we want to intervene in countries (like Ukraine) to impose democracy when we are the one with gridlock of political parties and the one percent corrupting America. They went on about the Chinese surpassing us in science and technology, and about how great it would be to live in countries like Denmark. (I told them in my head that they can go live in China and be restricted to having one baby or live in Denmark with big government, everything that goes against what America was founded on).
I took a largely different approach. I said I believe in American exceptionalism because I am a product of it. My grandparents came to America on a boat to escape fascism in Italy and realize exceptionalism here in the states. They created a mechanic business in Boston and established our family’s roots. They weren’t given any handouts. They worked hard and were able to reap the benefits.
Many will criticize the U.S. for its shortcomings, but they don’t see the bigger picture that this is still a place where people from all over the world come to for a better life. It is a place where everyone has the equal opportunity to be exceptional (insert opposing view about how social mobility is impossible here).
Maybe I’m just a glass half full kind of guy or maybe I’m still on a U.S.A. kick with the Olympics still going on, eagerly awaiting the hockey game against Canada tomorrow morning. Either way, I know my grandfather would be elated to see me graduate from Tulane University (assuming I make it through the next three months without any hiccups).