IS America exceptional? Really?
emailed Fri 2/18/2016
unusual; not typical.
Prior to the American experiment of self-governance people had no say in determining who or what their leadership would be. Nations of the world were ruled by patriarchs. Be they kings, monarchs, emperors, pharaohs, highnesses or whatever name and title existed in a particular part of the world and era of time – all were aristocracies . The king ruled until his death, when he died his son the prince became the new king. The prince’s son replaced him as the new prince and “rightful” heir to the throne until the new king died, and so on.
In thus fashion rulership was perpetually handed down and domination of royals continued often for centuries. In some places on earth such systems are still in place to this day. Prior to the establishment of the United States of America those occupying the highest slots in the ruling class were there as a result of birth right. Kings and pharaohs did not govern with the consent of the governed, rather, things were the other way around. The governed existed as a result of consent of the emperor and if he ever changed his mind – well, at that point it would be good to make certain your term life policy was paid up.
Then along came these upstarts in the new world. This band of maniacs had a totally novel idea. They had to gall to believe they could come up with a way for commoners to govern themselves. Inconceivable! A government of the people, for the people and by the people. That a people could actually govern themselves independently of a crown or throne was unheard of. Un-thought of.
These new world rebels believed that all men, ALL …not just those born in the castle, were endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights and that liberty and the freedom to pursue happiness were among those rights. Not the freedom to pursue whatever endeavor the king determined you’d pursue (under the threat of taking your very life for disobedience.)
It was heretofore unknown in the world. Up until this point it was assumed that those in the ruling class were some form of divine being themselves. Mostly because they labeled themselves as such. Assumed knowledge was that the aristocrats knew what was best for a populace; and that peasants, serfs, commoners couldn’t possibly possess intellectual abilities to govern. And even if they did they certainly didn’t have the military might necessary to do anything about it. Thus was the way of the world.
But these dreamers, these upstarts across the sea were determined. And after much bloodshed, broke free from the crown thus creating a nation that was the exception in the world. One without a supreme ruler. No one else before had done so.
They then realized that since we have no king this self-governance gig needs some parameters, definitions, constraints and limitations, rules of operation. And they developed the most brilliant documents ever conceived of by the minds of men and written by the hands of the same. Documents which survive and serve the purpose of defining self-governance and keeping the intricacies of its mechanics operating to this very day.
Their dream and act of disobedience worked. The nation flourished. The economy grew. Those whose ancestors were born destined to forever remain members of the lower/subservient classes began to pull themselves up into middle and even upper-class existences previously reserved only for the ruling class. They began to do something wholly unimaginable in previous centuries – purchase and own businesses and portions of property. As they did so they created an economic engine. That engine gave America the ability to develop an army, a navy, and eventually (as the technology arose) an air force. Then with that military and economic might, America began to export this notion of self-governance to other nations across the planet. Liberating commoners from the domination of the crown by the millions.
And now some two hundred and fifty years later millions if not billions in every corner of the globe enjoy the ability to participate in the very governmental processes to which they are subject. After decades beneath the thumb of a dictator, who can forget the images of Iraqi citizens proudly displaying the ink-stained fingers that indicated they’d done something completely novel – voted for their leadership. Millions if not billions now own the ground they work and live on. Millions if not billions have become educated beyond anything their ancestors centuries ago could possibly have aspired to. Their educations ended at learning to milk the goat and shoe the ass.
The world is forever changed, men and women have been born into freedom for generations. Born into freedom and liberty for so long they can no longer remember, relate to or even imagine what it must’ve been like to have been born a subject to the throne forever destined to eeking out an existence in servitude to some distant, unknown, unseen ruler.
The reason boys and girls now learn to pledge allegiance to a flag rather than a king, emperor or monarch? Because once upon a time not Greeks, not Italians, not Spaniards — America and Americans became the exception.