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Topics in the News: American Exceptionalism


Paul Ryan on Budget & Economy : Dec 15, 2013
Tea Party helps keep the taxpayer in the game

Q: Your budget deal has opened an even bigger split inside the Republican Party between the House Republican leaders, who supported the compromise, and outside Tea Party groups, who opposed it. Are you getting fed up with these outside groups who talk tough from the sidelines?

RYAN: I think these groups are valuable. The way I look at it is this--they're part of our conservative family. I'd prefer to keep these conversations within our family. I see the Tea Party as indispensable, invaluable in helping keep the taxpayer in the game, keep Washington accountable. And when I look at, when we lost our majority in '06, we deserved to lose it then. They helped us get out ship righted again by being fiscally conservative. We've got 2/3 of the House conservatives voting for this. I think this is a step in the right direction. It's not as far as I want to go, but it's a step in the right direction.

Click for Paul Ryan on other issues.   Source: Fox News Sunday 2013 series of 2016 presidential hopefuls

Paul Ryan on Principles & Values : May 9, 2013
Progressives seem to have answers, but can't keep promises

"Progressivism is well-intentioned but it is also--in my humble opinion--arrogant and condescending," Ryan said at the American Enterprise Institute. "Instead of helping people make their own decisions, it makes those decisions for them. It makes Washington the center of power & politicians the center of attention."

Ryan laced his blistering critique with caveats, saying progressives were not evil, but merely misguided in pursuit of the shared goal of American exceptionalism.

He acknowledged the appeal of the liberal message and the success Democrats have had in peddling their vision to voters. "This vision proved compelling," Ryan said. "It drew thousands of people into government. They seized the moral high ground. They said they were for the people. And their opponents? They were for the rich. They were selfish. Progressives seem to have an answer. The progressive state offers a sense of security. But it's a false sense of security because government can't keep all its promises."

Click for Paul Ryan on other issues.   Source: The Hill reporting on Ryan speech at AEI

Marco Rubio on Homeland Security : Feb 12, 2013
World is a better place when America is the strongest nation

On foreign policy, America continues to be indispensable to the goal of global liberty, prosperity and safeguarding human rights. The world is a better place when America is the strongest nation on earth. But we can't remain powerful if we don't have an economy that can afford it.
Click for Marco Rubio on other issues.   Source: GOP Response to 2013 State of the Union Address

Rand Paul on Principles & Values : Feb 12, 2013
America's exceptionalism is notion that all should be free

The state of our economy is tenuous but our people remain the greatest example of freedom and prosperity the world has ever known.

People say America is exceptional. I agree, but it's not the complexion of our skin or the twists in our DNA that make us unique. America is exceptional because we were founded upon the notion that everyone should be free to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.

For the first time in history, men and women were guaranteed a chance to succeed based NOT on who your parents were but on your own initiative and desire to work. We are in danger, though, of forgetting what made us great.

Click for Rand Paul on other issues.   Source: Tea Party Response to 2013 State of the Union Address

Barack Obama on Technology : Oct 22, 2012
World leadership via cutting-edge technology & workers

Q: What is America's role in the world?

ROMNEY: America has a responsibility and the privilege of helping defend freedom and promote the principles that make the world more peaceful.

OBAMA: America remains the one indispensable nation. And America is stronger now than when I came into office. And our alliances have never been stronger. But what we also have been able to do is position ourselves so we can start rebuilding America. That's what my plan does: Making sure that we're bringing manufacturing back to our shores so that we're creating jobs here; making sure that we've got the best education system in the world, including retraining our workers for the jobs of tomorrow; developing clean energy technologies that will allow us to cut our imports in half by 2020. And we've got to reduce our deficit, by cutting out spending we don't need but also asking the wealthiest to pay a little bit more; that way we can invest in the research and technology that's always kept us at the cutting edge.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Third Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate

John Bolton on Foreign Policy : Sep 11, 2012
We need a president who believes in American exceptionalism

Q: In a recent speech in Florida, you said, "The most important thing you need is a president who is proud of the United States of America, who believes in American exceptionalism." Can you explain why it's vital for a leader to appreciate that we do have a special, benevolent role to play?

A: Contrary to what its critics, including many in this country, say, American exceptionalism simply recognizes the reality of our distinct history. After all, a Frenchman, Alexis de Toqueville, first characterized us as "exceptional," and he didn't mean it entirely as a compliment! Obama once compared US exceptionalism to Britain & Greece, and he easily could have listed the other 190 UN members. If everyone is exceptional, no one is, leading almost inexorably to believe that the US has no special role to play internationally, even on its own behalf. It leads to a "come home, America" approach that inevitably weakens the US, its friends and allies, and the values and interests we should be advancing

Click for John Bolton on other issues.   Source: AEI Scholars column: 5 Questions

Condoleezza Rice on Foreign Policy : Aug 29, 2012
American exceptionalism is based on an idea of opportunity

When the world looks to America, they look to us because we are the most successful economic and political experiment in human history. That is the true basis of American exceptionalism. You see, the essence of America, what really unites us, is not nationality or ethnicity or religion. It is an idea. And what an idea it is. That you can come from humble circumstances and you can do great things, that it does not matter where you came from, it matters where you are going.

Ours has been a belief in opportunity. And it has been a constant struggle, long and hard, up and down, to try to extend the benefits of the American dream to all. But that American ideal is indeed in danger today. There is no country, no, not even a rising China that can do more harm to us than we can do to ourselves if we do not do the hard work before us here at home. People have come here from all over because they have believed our creed of opportunity and limitless horizons.

Click for Condoleezza Rice on other issues.   Source: 2012 Republican National Convention speech

Hillary Clinton on Foreign Policy : Jun 14, 2012
America is the "indispensable nation"

Quite a few of the ideas voiced by Obama, Hillary Clinton and other Democratic leaders today date back to the period of ferment in the 1970s. One was the idea of America as the "indispensible nation." Hillary Clinton used this phrase as Obama's secretary of state, explicitly borrowing the words used in the 1990s by Bill Clinton and his secretary of state Madeleine Albright.

But the words didn't originate with them, either. In a 1976 article in "Foreign Policy," Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote of "America the indispensible." Despite its defeat in Vietnam, he argued, American power remains "central to global stability and progress." During that period, Brzezinski argued that the US should start to give a much higher priority to its relationship with its allies.

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: The Obamians, by James Mann, p. 20-21

Newt Gingrich on Free Trade : Feb 3, 2012
Mitt Romney's trade & immigration stances compared to Newt's

Do Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich agree on free trade? (Yes, but Newt would remove restrictions on China trade while Mitt would push hard on China). Do they agree on other foreign policy issues? (Their differences are mostly "tough and tougher" attitudes; both strongly believe in American Exceptionalism). OnTheIssues' paperback book explores how Mitt's economic issue stances differ from Newt's, and where they are similar. We cite details from Mitt's books and speeches, and Newt's, so you can compare them, side-by-side, on issues like these:

Mitt vs. Newt on International Issues

Click for Newt Gingrich on other issues.   Source: Paperback: Mitt vs. Newt On The Issues

Barack Obama on Foreign Policy : Jan 24, 2012
America is the one indispensable nation in world affairs

The renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe. Our oldest alliances in Europe and Asia are stronger than ever. Our ties to the Americas are deeper. From the coalitions we've built to secure nuclear materials, to the missions we've led against hunger and disease; from the blows we've dealt to our enemies; to the enduring power of our moral example, America is back.

Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn't know what they're talking about. That's not the message we get from leaders around the world, all of whom are eager to work with us; where opinions of America are higher than they've been in years. Yes, the world is changing; no, we can't control every event. But America remains the one indispensable nation in world affairs--and as long as I'm President, I intend to keep it that way.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2012 State of the Union speech

Newt Gingrich on Principles & Values : Jun 13, 2011
Start speaking out in favor of American Exceptionalism

    Ten Steps to Restoring American Exceptionalism: Instead of waiting for government to reform itself, we should immediately start living our lives every day in ways that promote freedom, personal responsibility, and self-government. Here are ten thing you can do to help America's future be as exceptional as its past.
  1. Learn about American history, exceptional Americans, and America's founding principles.
  2. Speak out. Once you feel confident in your knowledge, start speaking out in favor of American Exceptionalism.
  3. Question governmental authority at every turn.
  4. Teach the children around you.
  5. Insist on schools that teach responsibility and the fundamentals of American citizenship.
  6. Defeat and replace bad judges.
  7. Reestablish the work ethic.
  8. Celebrate American holidays: Memorial Day; Veterans Day; the Fourth of July; Thanksgiving.
  9. Volunteer in your community.
  10. Run for office. Your country needs you.
Click for Newt Gingrich on other issues.   Source: A Nation Like No Other, by Newt Gingrich, p.190-196

Newt Gingrich on Principles & Values : Jun 13, 2011
American Exceptionalism is central to our nation's survival

"A Nation Like No Other" is dedicated to the proposition that American Exceptionalism is so central to our nation's survival that every generation must learn why being an American is a unique and precious experience. "A Nation Like No Other" reflects my belief that American Exceptionalism is so censored that too many Americans no longer understand why their country is both exceptional and an exception to the form and practice of government in all other countries. The facts are all on our side. America is simply the most extraordinary nation in the history. This is not a statement of nationalist hubris. It is an historic fact. America is exceptional indeed, yet our cultural heritage, our unique habits of liberty that have made us such a successful society, are now being threatened by a combination of centralized bureaucracies, leftwing ideologies, destructive litigation, and an elite view that American Exceptionalism is no longer acceptable or even permissible.
Click for Newt Gingrich on other issues.   Source: A Nation Like No Other, by Newt Gingrich, p. 13

Newt Gingrich on Principles & Values : Jun 13, 2011
Five habits of liberty sustain American Exceptionalism

Looking through 400 years of American history, we find five habits of liberty that have been crucial to sustaining American Exceptionalism. They are: faith and family, work, civil society, rule of law, and safety and peace. Tempering man's worst impulses, these distinctly American habits are vital to cultivating an engaged, informed citizenry, which is needed to sustain a free republic and secure the unalienable rights asserted in the Declaration of Independence. The emphasis on these habits set America apart from its European counterparts, where monarchs were intent on cultivating passive, obedient subjects unlikely to change their ruler's claim to power.
Click for Newt Gingrich on other issues.   Source: A Nation Like No Other, by Newt Gingrich, p. 42

Sarah Palin on Principles & Values : Nov 23, 2010
American exceptionalism based on idea of right to be free

In my experience, Americans are patriotic but not necessarily idealistic. We find inspiration and motivation close to home, in our families, our communities, and our faith. Generally, we're happy to live our lives and pursue our dreams and leave others to live and pursue theirs.

And if we were an ordinary country--just one country among many others--that would be enough. All countries have the right to defend themselves, and they exercise that right whenever necessary. But America isn't just another country, it's an exceptional country. We are the only country in the history of the world that was founded not on a particular territory or culture or people, but on an idea. That idea is that all human beings have a God-given right to be free. So when our young men and women sacrifice to serve in the military, they are doing much more than defending a piece of land. They are defending the idea of America itself.

Click for Sarah Palin on other issues.   Source: America by Heart, by Sarah Palin, p. 37

Sarah Palin on Principles & Values : Nov 23, 2010
I label myself a "Commonsense Constitutional Conservative"

The question, going forward, is how? How do we embrace our exceptionalism at home and abroad? How do we take this great awakening among the American people and turn it into a positive force for reclaiming our country and our heritage? Like so many Americans, I have been thinking about this a lot lately.

The answer is closer than many of us realize. We don't need a manifesto. We don't need a new party. We just need to honor what our country is and was meant to be. And we need to remember the common sense most of us learned before we went to kindergarten.

If I have to label myself, I would happily slap on a sticker that read, "Commonsense Constitutional Conservative." I am an Alaskan, with an inbred spirit of independence we are so proud of in our state, and I am proud to have been registered in the Republican Party since I was eighteen, because I believe that the planks of our platform are the strongest foundation upon which to build a great nation while protecting our God-given liberties.

Click for Sarah Palin on other issues.   Source: America by Heart, by Sarah Palin, p.266-267

Barack Obama on Principles & Values : Nov 23, 2010
American exceptionalism is same as any other exceptionalism

Many people don't believe we have special message for the world or a special mission to preserve our greatness for the betterment of not just ourselves but all of humanity. Astonishingly, President Obama even said that he believes in American exceptionalism in the same way "the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism." Which is to say, he doesn't believe in American exceptionalism at all. He seems to think it is just a kind of irrational prejudice in favor of our way of life. To me, that is appalling.

When President Obama insists that all countries are exceptional, he's saying that none is, last of all the country he leads. That's a shame, because American exceptionalism is something that people in both parties used to believe in.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: America by Heart, by Sarah Palin, p. 69

Bobby Jindal on Foreign Policy : Nov 15, 2010
America is exceptional & should remain the greatest country

I believe America should remain the greatest country in the world. When I was a kid, that was safe to say and aspire to. Not so today. There are many political leaders in America today who don't like the sound of that. They cringe at the thought of American exceptionalism and superiority. It strikes them as unsophisticated, unrefined, kind of "cowboyish." They think our aspirations of leadership are arrogant evidence of a fundamental intolerance of other nations and their cultures. They believe America should be content to settle in our place as just another country in the family of nations. They are ashamed we would seek to be the greatest country in the world.

I am not ashamed. I am proud that America is exceptional. The stronger America is, the safer the world is. We have a moral responsibility to make our country stronger and unashamedly export our ideals of freedom & democracy to all who would fulfill the divinely inspired potential of every living soul on this planet.

Click for Bobby Jindal on other issues.   Source: Leadership and Crisis, by Bobby Jindal, p.172

Mitt Romney on Foreign Policy : Mar 2, 2010
American Exceptionalism means America need not decline

In a world composed of nations that are filled with rage and hate for the US, our president should proudly defend her rather than continually apologize for her. I reject the view that America must decline. I believe in American exceptionalism. I am convinced that we can act together to strengthen the nation, to preserve our global leadership, and to protect freedom where it exits and promote it where it does not. What is ahead of us now will not be easy. It will be difficult to overcome the challenges we face, to maintain our national strength and purpose even as China, Russia, and the jihadists pursue their own ambitions. It will be difficult to repair the damage from the economic panic of 2008 and the intemperate actions that have been justified as steps to remedy it. I don't worry about our ability to overcome any problem or threat. But I do wonder whether we will take this action that is timely, and that we will act before the necessary correction is massively disruptive.
Click for Mitt Romney on other issues.   Source: No Apology, by Mitt Romney, p. 29&33

Sarah Palin on Principles & Values : Oct 2, 2008
Shares McCain world view of US as shining city on the hill

Q: What qualifies you for the job?

PALIN: But even more important is that world view that I share with John McCain. That world view that says that America is a nation of exceptionalism. And we are to be that shining city on a hill, as President Reagan so beautifully said, that we are a beacon of hope. We are not perfect as a nation. But together, we represent a perfect ideal. And that is democracy and tolerance and freedom and equal rights. Those things that we stand for that can be put to good use as a force for good in this world.

BIDEN: I will place my record and Barack’s record against John McCain’s or anyone else in terms of fundamental accomplishments. Wrote the crime bill, put 100,000 cops on the street, wrote the Violence Against Women Act, which John McCain voted against both of them, was the catalyst to change the circumstance in Bosnia, led by President Clinton, obviously.

Click for Sarah Palin on other issues.   Source: 2008 Vice Presidential debate against Joe Biden

Hillary Clinton on Principles & Values : Nov 11, 2007
Cultivates grassroots groups & “grass-top” leaders

Clinton’s field organizing in the states, early on, has been stellar: monied, methodical, and smart. Her team makes a habit of plugging into grassroots groups like ACORN (whose support has been indispensable to her in New York) as well as to what she calls “grass-tops”--community leaders and local legislators. In N.H., [a pundit] described Clinton’s campaign as “flawless,” the only risk being that there’s little room left for the kind of spontaneity that keeps volunteers excited.

In Nevada, every candidate is lobbying hard for the kind of influential “grass-top” endorsements that have the power to turn party faithful out to the caucus. By mid-July 2007, it was hard to find a single Democratic legislator in Nevada, Iowa, or Hew Hampshire who hadn’t received a call or visit from the woman-who-would-be president.

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 29-30

Newt Gingrich on Foreign Policy : Jun 1, 1995
American Exceptionalism: uniquely far-reaching individualism

American Exceptionalism starts with the idea of a uniquely insistent and far-reaching individualism. It's a view of the individual person which gives unprecedented weight to his or her choices, interests, and claims.

I think this is at the core of the American idea, at the core of the American sense of who we are. That we are uniquely individuals, and that each person is endowed by their Creator, every man, every woman, every child, is endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights. That's a very important concept. They cannot be alienated from you, they're yours, they're bound to you, and therefore, the system has to be built around your rights unless you voluntarily loan some of them to the state.

Notice how different that is from all historic experiences where the government, the king, or the dictator is empowered by God or by history in the Marxist model."

Click for Newt Gingrich on other issues.   Source: Newt!, by Dick Williams, p. 15

  • Additional quotations related to American Exceptionalism issues can be found under Foreign Policy.
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