Saturday, November 19, 2011

Do you even know what you just said?

That's a question I'd like to ask Charles Blow, after reading his latest piece at the NYT. Entitled "The Decline of American Exceptionalism," Blow notes that there is more doubt among citizens--particularly young ones--than in the past, with regard to the idea that there is an American Exceptionalism:
Perhaps even more striking was that, among young people (those ages 18 to 29), the percentage of Americans who believed that their culture was superior was lower than young citizens of Germany, Spain and Britain. 
Even if you put aside the somewhat loaded terminology of cultural superiority, Americans simply don’t seem to feel very positive about America at the moment. A Time Magazine/Abt SRBI poll conducted last month found that 71 percent of Americans believed that our position in the world has been on the decline in the past few years.
Blow even offers a "solution" to this problem, though it's basically just a series of tired, worn-out cliches:
Is exceptionalism an anointing or an ethos? If the answers are grit and ethos, then we must work to recapture them. We must work our way out of these doldrums. We must learn our way out. We must innovate our way out. 
We have to stop snuggling up to nostalgia, acknowledge that we have allowed a mighty country to be brought low and set a course to restitution. And that course is through hard work and tough choices. You choose greatness; it doesn’t choose you.
But what he never does is identify the why behind this changing perception. Maybe he thinks it's obvious, that it's simply the current climate of political divisiveness and the slumping economy. Newsflash: the divisiveness we see today is nothing new, despite all the articles bemoaning the lack of respect and decorum from one side of the aisle or the other. Politics have been divisive in this country since day one.

As to the economy, we've had downturns before, and we'll have them again. No, those don't seem like plausible ones. Maybe the reason for this change is simply one Blow doesn't want to face. What's different in the past few years? Could it be a Chief Executive that spends his days talking down America, apologizing to every nation on the planet for American actions across the past two hundred years? Nah, that can't be it...

Cheers, all.

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