American Exceptionalism and Its Enemies

The United States is an exceptional nation. Most Americans would not regard that as a controversial statement. And there is a good reason for that: it is true. The U.S. is the world’s oldest and most stable capitalist liberal democracy, older even than Great Britain, which did not become a mass democracy until the late nineteenth century.

It was the first nation founded in an act of rebellion against a colonial power. It was the first nation founded on the belief that the rights of man are inherent and God-given, and that the powers of the government derive from the consent of the people. It was, therefore, the first nation to recognize that the state must be limited to the powers granted by the people, and to recognize explicitly that the state was founded to secure their rights. It was the first nation to be based on a separation of powers, and on the clear subordination of the military to civilian rule. And it was the first nation to state all of this in a constitution that was publicly debated and democratically accepted.

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