The “Exceptionalism” piece by Kim TallBear [“‘Exceptionalism’ narrative doesn’t jive,” Vol. 28, Iss. 13] expressed my feelings to some degree, and stirred the rest. I never looked at the false American ideal from the exceptionalist point of view, but TallBear is so right: all candidates must profess belief in the false ideal to interest conservatives in their election.
I am a liberal and proud of it. I don’t identify with the exceptional American ideal, or any of the other conservative dogma. From reading and listening to Mr. Obama’s speeches pre-convention, I became convinced that he shares far more of my ideals than those of the conservatives who essentially rule this “exceptional land” with a leaden fist. I say leaden because it moves so very slowly toward change of a beneficial nature except when it concerns the benefit of the fist itself.
And yet, when it comes to flexing the muscle behind the fist, this “exceptional America” can quickly justify usurping another government’s authority and deposing it, and can trample the human rights of its own as well as other sovereign citizens’ rights.
This causes me to also identify with the words of Mrs. Obama when she says that because a woman and a man of African descent can run for president in this exceptional country at last, she is proud of her country in a way she hasn’t been for a long time. This moment in our history catches us up with some of the more liberal countries where being a liberal or a conservative means you have different views and plans – not that one is patriotic and one is not; one is good and one is bad.
What I hear over and over again from the other side is, be afraid: be very afraid. Be afraid of a candidate and his wife who aren’t afraid to occasionally speak what so many of us feel and aspire to. Be afraid of what changes their refreshing honesty and connection with the larger populace of working people might make to “the American ideal.”
They, the conservatives alone, will make changes “you can trust.” Yet one of the two on that ticket continually misrepresents her accomplishments and the other misrepresents the words and plans of his opponent. Be afraid: be very afraid.
If elected, only the one with years and years of experience in Washington can make us safe again, “will make our borders safe” and “our country safe from our enemies.” If a proven warrior and finger of the fist isn’t in the lead, be very afraid.
Well, I am afraid. When the polls show that fear yet rules this “exceptional country” so much so that people are still close to electing another fear-monger, I am afraid. I am also afraid of the power these religious bigots still have in this “exceptional country” when they can convince people that only a person who believes and professes what they do – that their religion is the only real one – is deserving of power in this nation.
– Anita Glenn
Fort Wayne, Ind