Sarah Palin's 'America the Exceptional'

This isan excerpt from Sarah Palin’s new book recently published in the NationalPost.  One no longer expects a politicianto write all their own material today, if they ever truly did.  Yet I presume she contributed significantlyto the effort and this work certainly shows us that she is been exposed tosignificant thinkers who are shaping her intellectual development.

This iscertainly a confidence builder.  Itappears today that any one with political ambitions must start first with abook deal.

Her greatestpolitical attribute is her proven capacity to stare down the money culture ofCapital Hill and that folks is the sole reason that the Tea Party exists.  The informed public is seriously offended bya system that instantly seduces their representatives with mountains of cash.They know that it is impossible for the best of men to work properly on theirbehalf and an insurance company lobby.

She issaying that Americais better than that.  That is why she canwin in 2012 and I do not think that anyone is going to be able to stop herunless she does.  There are always betterprepared candidates but rarely one who embodies the fundamental politicalcrisis facing the USAbrought on completely by money politics. They ended the Reagan consensus in 1998 through Clinton and crushed economy which continuesto stagger.  At that level she iscreditable and becoming more so with this type of copy.

America theExceptional
SarahPalin, National Post ·Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010

There is a depressing predictability toconversations about Americathese days. More times than not, if you try to say something nice about ourcountry, you're accused of being a closed-minded nativist, one of thosedangerous hicks clinging to her guns, her God and her country. The equallyunpleasant corollary to this practice is that America's critics never seem togive her the benefit of the doubt anymore. She's never merely wrong in theireyes; she's just plain bad.
I was reminded of this distasteful tendencywhen Arizonarecently passed a law that allows state law enforcement officers to questionsuspected lawbreakers about their immigration status. Love the law or hate thelaw, you couldn't help but notice that the reception it received from itscritics seemed designed not just to discredit the statute, but to cast Americaitself in the most negative possible light. If you relied on MS-NBC for yournews, suddenly Arizona -- and, by extension,all of red-state America --had become the equivalent of Nazi Germany. Even worse was the way thelaw was portrayed by those who should have known better--including members ofthe Obama administration and others in Washington-- as a sign of the inherent badness of America.
As soon as the Arizonalaw was passed, the Obama administration shifted into a familiar mode:Apologizing for Americabefore foreign audiences. In talks with Chinese officials (representatives of aregime that kills and jails political dissidents and forces abortions on women,among its many other human rights abuses), State Department officials calledthe Arizonalaw part of a "troubling trend in our society and an indication that wehave to deal with issues of discrimination."
Many members of Congress even shamefully stoodand applauded when Mexican President Felipe Calderon spoke before a jointsession of Congress and accused Arizonaof using "racial profiling as a basis for law enforcement." This,from a head of state whose law enforcement officials have repeatedly beenaccused of turning a blind eye to human rights abuses of immigrants on itssouthern border and does more to encourage illegal immigration to the UnitedStates than to see that Mexican citizens can provide for their families byworking in their homeland.
The knee-jerk tendency on the part of some torun down Americaand accuse her fans of being mindless hillbillies is getting old. On the otherhand, I'm not interested in closing my eyes to our country's problems. Therehas to be a middle ground, a way of talking about America that shows we are proud ofher greatness but not blind to her flaws. Of course, we're not perfect, and theaccusation that anyone who chooses to accentuate America's positive aspects isclaiming that we are without blemish is not just tiresome but hurtful. It's away of keeping the conversation focused on our flaws. It's a game of"gotcha" played by people who are either too disdainful of or tooinsecure about America'sbeauty to handle an honest conversation about our country.
You've probably heard a term being used bythose who believe Americais a special nation with a special role in the world: American exceptionalism.It may sound kind of cocky and arrogant to some people. But what do we meanwhen we say Americais an exceptional country? We're not saying we're better than anyone else, orthat we have the right to tell people in other countries how to live theirlives. When we say Americais exceptional we're saying we are the lucky heirs to a unique set of beliefsand national qualities, and that we need to preserve and value those beliefs.We're saying Americais a model to the world, not a bully to the world, or responsible for theworld.
In one of my favourite magazines, NationalReview, Richard Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru explain America's special character well:"Our country has always been exceptional. It is freer, moreindividualistic, more democratic, and more open and dynamic than any othernation on Earth. These qualities are the bequest of our Founding and of ourcultural heritage. They have always marked America as special, with a uniquerole and mission in the world: as a model of ordered liberty and self-governmentand as an exemplar of freedom and a vindicator of it, through persuasion whenpossible and force of arms when absolutely necessary."
The idea of American exceptionalism is olderthan the United Statesitself. When Ronald Reagan used to speak of a "shining city on ahill," he was borrowing from John Winthrop, a preacher who led a group ofPuritans to religious freedom in America in 1630: "We shall beas a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us."
Winthrop, in turn, was borrowing from Matthew5:14, in which Jesus tells his followers, "You are the light of the world.A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden."
"The light of the world." "Acity on a hill." These are high aspirations for a people in a strange newland. And it's one of the more curious things about American history, I'velearned, that it was the Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville who described how America hasmanaged to mostly fulfill this promise. If you pay attention while you'relistening to C-SPAN or reading American history you're sure to come acrossTocqueville. He literally wrote the book on American exceptionalism.
In 1831, Tocqueville spent nine monthstraveling from Boston to Michiganto New Orleans trying to find out about thisthing called democracy in this place called America. The first volume of hisbook, appropriately titled Democracy in America, was published in 1835 andwas an instant success. What he saw in Americawas a country and a people distinctly different from Europe,and thus exceptional. Tocqueville said that three things -- American customs(particularly our religious heritage), law (particularly our commitment tofederalism, or states' rights) and geography combined to make "theposition of the Americans ... quite exceptional, and it may be believed that nodemocratic people will ever be placed in a similar one."
One aspect of American exceptionalism asdescribed by Alexis de Tocqueville that is particularly meaningful today is ourpropensity to govern ourselves, locally, without waiting for any central authorityto show us the way. He could have been talking about towns I've been to in New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, or Alaska,for that matter, when he wrote, "In towns it is impossible to prevent menfrom assembling, getting excited together and forming sudden passionateresolves. Towns are like great meeting houses with all the inhabitants asmembers. In them the people wield immense influence over their magistrates andoften carry their desires into execution without intermediaries."
Sad to say, many of our national leaders nolonger believe in American exceptionalism. They -- perhaps dearly -- love theircountry and want what's best for it, but they think Americais just an ordinary nation and so America should act like just anordinary nation. They don't believe we have a special message for the world ora special mission to preserve our greatness for the betterment of not justourselves but all of humanity. Astonishingly, President Obama even said that hebelieves in American exceptionalism in the same way "the Brits believe inBritish exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism."Which is to say, he doesn't believe in American exceptionalism at all. He seemsto think it is just a kind of irrational prejudice in favour of our way oflife.
To me, that is appalling. His statementreminds me of that great scene in the movie The Incredibles. Dash, the son inthe superhero family, who is a super-fast runner, wants to try out for thetrack team at school. His mom claims it won't be fair. "Dad always saidour powers were nothing to be ashamed of. Our powers made us special!"Dash objects. When his mom answers with the politically correct rejoinder"Everyone's special, Dash," Dash mutters, "Which is another wayof saying no one is."
Maybe President Obama grew up around coacheswho insisted that all the players receive participation "trophies" atthe end of the season and where no score was kept in youth soccer games forfear of offending someone. Because just like Mrs. Incredible, when President Obamainsists that all countries are exceptional, he's saying that none is, least ofall the country he leads. That's a shame, because American exceptionalism issomething that people in both parties used to believe in.
- From the book America By Heart: Reflections onFamily, Faith, and Flag by Sarah Palin. Copyright ©2010 by Sarah Palin.Reprinted by arrangement with Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
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