On U.S. political decay and Hillary Clinton’s embrace of American exceptionalism

REUTERS/Chris Keane
Hillary Clinton holding a T-shirt while visiting a Des Moines clothing store on Wednesday.

In a piece titled “The Decay of American Politics: An Ode to Ike and Adlai,” Andrew Bacevich, who is now 69 and not generally much of a sentimentalist, reminisced about the presidential elections of his youth, like the two elections in 1952 and 1956 when the Republicans nominated Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Democrats nominated Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson.

“Of the seamy underside of politics I knew nothing, of course” Bacevich wrote.  “On the surface, all seemed reassuring. As if by divine mandate, two parties vied for power. The views they represented defined the allowable range of opinion. The outcome of any election expressed the collective will of the people and was to be accepted as such. That I was growing up in the best democracy the world had ever known — its very existence a daily rebuke to the enemies of freedom — was beyond question.

“Naïve? Embarrassingly so. Yet how I wish that Election Day in November 2016 might present Americans with something even loosely approximating the alternatives available to them in November 1956. Oh, to choose once more between an Ike and an Adlai.”

The choice now is between Donald and Hillary. Bacevich clearly knows which one he can’t support. But he is far from excited about giving his precious vote to the one, Hillary Clinton, about whom he wishes he felt better. Here’s a taste of that in Bacevich’s own words:

To contrast the virtues and shortcomings of Stevenson and Eisenhower with those of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald Trump is both instructive and profoundly depressing. Comparing the adversaries of 1956 with their 2016 counterparts reveals with startling clarity what the decades-long decay of American politics has wrought.

In 1956, each of the major political parties nominated a grown-up for the highest office in the land. In 2016, only one has. In 1956, both parties nominated likeable individuals who conveyed a basic sense of trustworthiness. In 2016, neither party has done so.

In 1956, Americans could count on the election to render a definitive verdict, the vote count affirming the legitimacy of the system itself and allowing the business of governance to resume. In 2016, that is unlikely to be the case. Whether Trump or Clinton ultimately prevails, large numbers of Americans will view the result as further proof of ‘rigged’ and irredeemably corrupt political arrangements. Rather than inducing some semblance of reconciliation, the outcome is likely to deepen divisions.

Regular readers of this space know that my own primary substantive objection to Clinton is her hawkishness, starting with her vote to authorize the war in Iraq. And regulars will recognize my admiration for Bacevich, a retired U.S. Army colonel who served in the Vietnam War, and whose son, also Andrew, died in the Iraq war.

Bacevich has been a full-time academic and author or editor of nine books since 2002 — mostly on the subject of international relations and especially war, and mostly arguing that America gets into too many wars for reasons of what might be called imperial arrogance, and suggesting dark motives for those wars, far different from the motives various presidents have used to sell those wars to the public.

It follows that, although Bacevich will choose Clinton as the lesser of evils, his fundamental objection is that Clinton is an unreconstructed hawk. He has other objections, but given his worldview, the key one goes like this:

She shrugs off her misguided vote in support of invading Iraq back in 2003, while serving as senator from New York.  She neither explains nor apologizes for pressing to depose Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, her most notable “accomplishment” as secretary of state. “We came, we saw, he died,” she bragged back then, somewhat prematurely given that Libya has since fallen into anarchy and become a haven for ISIS. …

The carefully scripted Clinton commits few missteps, as she recites with practiced ease the pablum that passes for right thinking in establishment circles. But fluency does not necessarily connote soundness. Clinton, after all, adheres resolutely to the highly militarized “Washington playbook” that President Obama himself has disparaged — a faith-based belief in American global primacy to be pursued regardless of how the world may be changing and heedless of costs.

On the latter point, note that Clinton’s acceptance speech in Philadelphia included not a single mention of Afghanistan. By Election Day, the war there will have passed its 15th anniversary. One might think that a prospective commander-in-chief would have something to say about the longest conflict in American history, one that continues with no end in sight. Yet, with the Washington playbook offering few answers, Mrs. Clinton chooses to remain silent on the subject.

So while a Trump presidency holds the prospect of the United States driving off a cliff, a Clinton presidency promises to be the equivalent of banging one’s head against a brick wall without evident effect, wondering all the while why it hurts so much. 

The whole Bacevich piece was great, and here’s a link to it. (The first few paragraph are introductory remarks by the editor of TomDispatch. Bacevich takes over soon enough.)

But I was especially grateful to Bacevich for a link he provided in this piece to a short video clip of Clinton being interviewed by Jane Pauley — in 2014, as she prepared to announce her candidacy — on the subject of “American Exceptionalism.”

To me at my current level of senescence, this meaningless two-word phrase has become a very dangerous bit of gibberish. It means essentially little more than that we love ourselves and think we’re objectively great or, “exceptional.” It means we expect other lesser nations to follow both our lead and our example, and it protects us against any dangerous tendency to think we might benefit from the examples of any other nations, you know, the unexceptional ones.

But in the area that generally consumes Bacevich, foreign and military policy, the key is that “exceptional” starts with “exception,” as in the “exception to a rule.” For example, one of the fundamental principles of international law is that you can’t just attack another country that hasn’t attacked you. Likewise, you can’t use other means, like CIA stuff, to interfere in another country’s internal affairs and, you know, overthrow their government and replace it with a government friendlier to yourself.

If anyone tried any of that invading or overthrowing against us, we would know what to do about it and have the means to do it. Those are pretty important rules, for the peace of the world. And we take a dim view of those who disregard them.

But there’s one “exception.” The United States has — pretty clearly and openly without liking to be too clear about it — arrogated to itself the right go anywhere, bomb or invade anyone, remove by overt or covert means any government that offends us. No country has militarily attacked the United States since Japan in 1941, which got us into World War II. And no country ever even tried to overthrow a government of the United States (unless you want to make a weird twisted claim that the southern states did in 1861.) But how many countries have we attacked and/or overthrown or tried to overthrow in our exceptional history? Some lefties may run up the score and I’m not saying it’s in triple digits, but it’s well up in double digits.

But because we’re exceptional, you see, other countries generally benefit from it.

OK, if I disgorge any more of this pent-up belief, I might get investigated by the UnAmerican Mental Activities Committee. But, in the 2014 interview I mentioned above, Jane Pauley asked Hillary Clinton whether she still believes in “American Excptionalism.” Came the reply:

Clinton: I do. I believe even more than I did when I became secretary of state.

Jane Pauley: Why? What fundamentally makes us exceptional?

Clinton: We are, number one, the longest surviving democracy. But not just in the way we were created, but in the way we’ve evolved. When we were started, you and I would certainly not have been included. And in fact we saw that we had to fight a civil war. We had to amend the Constitution. We had to pass laws. And we’re still making changes to try to move us toward that more perfect union.

I don’t know of any other nation that is as self-correcting, self-aware, as willing to make change in order to live up to our founding principles as we are. So we get down on ourselves, but that’s part of our self-correcting psychology. We know we’re not perfect. We don’t claim to be perfect. But we are exceptional. And I think we have to both understand that and we have to safeguard it.

Unless Clinton is claiming that we are unusual among the nations in that we allow women to vote, or that we no longer have legalized slavery, or that we sometimes amend our system of government, or even that we “pass laws” as we try to live up to a set of ideals for what we think our nation can be, what exactly, other than that we really like ourselves a lot, makes us so very, very “exceptional” that it deserves to be an “ism?”

Well, there’s the “oldest democracy,” bit, which Clinton mentioned first, which is a shaky, arguable but non-terrible claim. But it’s hardly the stuff on which a grand, general “exceptionalism” case can be built.

I guess I’ve made this clear, but I believe that American Exceptionalism is dangerous rubbish that mostly creates arrogance about our domestic situation, thus preventing us from knowing or caring whether other countries have any ideas or programs we might want to adopt, and, most dangerously, engenders the ludicrous self-serving view that we can go anywhere, bomb or invade or overthrow anyone for their own good or at least the greater good of the world, and that if they weren’t all such ingrates, they would thank us for it.

The Pauley-Clinton interview is viewable here.

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Comments (22)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 08/11/2016 - 10:14 am.

    We all can go on about how mistaken Clinton’s vote on going to war was, but in the end she was a Senator from New York, with office and residence in NYC at 9/11. The way the vote had been structured and publicized really politically boxed in the Senate and House (I heard and remember distinctly the tenor and tone of those “you’re either with us or you’re against us”)–ESPECIALLY for those people’s representatives who were from New York and New Jersey–the states with the direct effects of the attack.

    So go on about it, ad-nauseum. But remember, all politics are local.

  2. Submitted by joe smith on 08/11/2016 - 10:39 am.

    What country would you like to emulate?

    What form of government has created more opportunities for more people than the USA system? I agree we should take care of ourselves without invading countries but putting our heads in the sand and pretending radical Islam is not a problem is being ignorant. Our system has devolved into way too much power in DC and not enough state rights as our constitution intended. Giving back states rights is what the last 100 years of elections have been about and what this flawed 2016 should be about. Unfortunately for us voters it is a choice between 2 people who both want to grow DC and the power of Government in our lives….. The 3rd person involved in this race, Bernie Sanders, just wanted to go straight socialism and many here were all for him. I wish there was an honest broker in this election of an individuals right to succeed or fail on his own merit, not some Federal bureaucrats idea of what is best for me. I have seen those ideas come and go in my 6 decades, I am still waiting for 1 of their Big Government programs to live up to its promises.

    I have never understood the left’s problem with American exceptionalism and their attempts to down play all the good that has come out of this country. We are not a perfect, but as I stated, name me the country you would like us to emulate?

    • Submitted by Doug Gray on 08/11/2016 - 12:41 pm.

      naming names

      Norway. Sweden. Denmark. Costa Rica. Finland. Canada. That’s five. As for “Big Government programs,” the Civil/Voting Rights Acts, the Americans with Disabilities Act, Social Security, Medicare, the Rural Electrification Program, that’s five more.

    • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 08/11/2016 - 03:36 pm.

      Forms of government

      Mr. Gray has provided a good response to one question which I agree with. But I don’t think our “form of government” has had anything to do with what great and good things have been done in this country. Mostly, I think our “form of government” has prevented greater good from being done. Just as it’s been doing for the past thirty years, culminating in the present gridlock in our supposedly popularly elected legislative branch. It’s an obsolete “form of government” which we created to solve problems created up to the 18th century. Humankind and its problems have moved on. America has not with its antiquated “form of government.”

      Last time I checked, an individual is still allowed to fail on his or her own merit. The bankruptcy courts are clogged with such individuals’ cases. Poverty is fairly widespread and hopelessness and despair abounds. Succeeding is also still possible, though it falls mostly to those with inherited wealth and/or powerful connections. Then again, it depends on how you define “success.” Some people would be happy with modest amount food and shelter.

      On “States’ rights”: the only people I’ve ever heard deplore encroachments on “States rights” as a general theme were Dixiecrats from the former states of the Confederacy as they fought their rear guard action in defense of Jim Crow over the last half of the Twentieth Century. I used to think that the Civil War was past history but nowadays I agree with William Faulkner about it: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

      “American Exceptionalism” is really a more PC term for “American Imperialism”. Many Americans cannot and will not accept as a fact that America sought to become and became an empire, especially after WWII when it succeeded to the role of Great Britain as an imperial power. Eric (and Andrew Bacevich) have summed up how this translates into “American Exceptionalism.”

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 08/11/2016 - 04:05 pm.

      How ’bout Europe?

      “What form of government has created more opportunities for more people than the USA system?”

      I don’t know about the “form of government” part, but when it comes to the “more opportunities for more people” part, I always think of two or three things related to Europe:

      Guinness Brewing: Take a look at a Guinness Stout label sometime and you’ll see they’ve been doing their thing in Ireland (and providing lots of opportunities) since 1759 . . . Since 18 years before American got started.

      http://www.guinness.com/en-us/our-beers/

      Bushmills Irish whiskey: While you’re checking out that Guinness label, take a look at the one on a bottle of Bushmills and you’ll notice it says 1608 . . . My handy (solar) calculator says those Irish “bootleggers” went legitimate 168 years before the founding fathers signed the papers in Philidelphia.

      http://www.bushmills.com

      There’s plenty of debate in Ireland as to whether the founding of those two companies has been a good thing for their country (see: Frank McCourt’s, “Angela’s Ashes”), but when it comes to opportunities being created, those are just two examples of the multitude of opportunities Europe has been creating for the people who’ve lived there since hundreds of years before the USA was even an IDEA in anyone’s mind.

      (There are European cities and towns that have been functioning for 1,200 years; Buildings in Berlin that are 750 years old — and probably older — that are still being used; the industrial revolution started there in the late 1700s; the first patent for a steam locomotive was filed in 1784 and steel-based railroads began being built throughout Europe in the early 1800s, a few years after Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark to explore the wilderness west of the Mississippi.)

      In terms of waiting for just one Big Government program to live up to its promises, in addition to the type of things Doug pointed out (and in keeping with the idea of free enterprise opportunities created) I always think of the Hoover and Grand Coulee dams.

      The 1930’s forerunners of today’s conservative Republicans were saying the same kind of things you’re saying about those two projects back then, only saying them more loudly: “MASSIVE BOONDOGGLES! GOVERNMENT WASTE, FRAUD, CRONY PAYOFFS! ECONOMIC SUICIDE AT TAXPAYER’S EXPENSE!!!” etc..

      Then came the electrification (and irrigation) of places like Nevada, Arizona, California. And then came millions of people and thousands of towns, cities, businesses and millions and millions of free market opportunities in the (new) “Great Southwest” (especially after the invention of air conditioning, all powered by that Big Government Boondoggle no Private Sector business was willing or able to build). In terms of “job creating” or “economic development” or plain old “growth,” the value of building the Hoover/Boulder dam is incalculable.

      And then came the attack on Pearl Harbor and, lo and behold, that OTHER dam boondoggle, the Grand Coulee, was fired up to maximum capacity to do for the (soon to be) “Great Northwest” what the Hoover did for the Southwest: It provided the juice that was needed to smelt all that aluminum and build all those (Boeing and Grumman) fighters and bombers that won the war; not to mention the same kind of incalculable and lasting (to this day) free enterprise opportunities for growth and prosperity.

      Both of those Big Government projects played a pretty big role in the biggest expansion of the middle class in history. You know . . . That thing you grew up in?

      But, speaking of that, if you limit your perspective to the last 60 years, yeah . . . It could look like government doesn’t or can’t do anything. But then, a person needs to bear in mind that 60 years just takes us back to 1956. That middle class boom was just getting started then and it kept booming way for another 20 years (when the price of gas doubled and interest rates hit 20%).

      And, since about then, the USA has been heavily influenced by the “contemporary conservative Republican approach to economic reality” Ronald Reagan introduced. And now, 30 years into Trickle-down, too-low taxes and massive borrowing to cover the shortfalls and perpetual “no compromise” politics, the chances of Big Government building the next Hoover or Grand Coulee dam are pretty much non-existent.

      And that middle class that was a true example of “American exceptionalism” (if there ever was one) is heading for the same status.

      But hey . . . By all means, keep bitching about how useless Big Gov is and keep cheerleading and voting for Republicans. They’ve got it all figured out.

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 08/11/2016 - 05:31 pm.

        Remember One Important Piston

        The economic engine of this country has also benefited greatly from foreign wars, particularly WW I &WW II.

        There’s no better Big Government program I know that produces tons of good jobs with skilled labor producing high quality stuff…stuff, by the way, that mostly forms no residual economic inventory (it’s used up). WW II, in particular, produced little additional consumer inventory, actually decreased and rationed it, so that post-war economy benefited twice: no inventory drag, thereby requiring replacement production; and re-building of Europe, in particular. Not only did we “boom” through new jobs in our domestic market; but, also expanded export to others. And, then there was the long tech. revolution stimulated by wartime invention and extension. Sure, we might feel a near short term negative adjustment, but that’s just a lag.

        Unfortunately, a key imperative of this war engine is to destroy goods and services in the operational theaters, so that they must be replaced without recycling our own stuff. That requires battles on foreign soil.
        [The Space Program was an effective quasi-war engine. Before the shuttles, we made stuff that mostly didn’t come back.]

        This might be called the “Win-Win-Win” proposition.
        Caution: The winner must rebuild the loser to prolong this cycle.

        • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 08/12/2016 - 09:47 am.

          Win-Win-Win

          This strategy is incredibly expensive–in money and, very importantly, lives. We’re still paying for both of the World Wars. It’s interesting to note that the US is exceptional in the case of WWII…we were one of the winners, yet we were the only “winners” that paid reparations to a “loser.” None of the other Allies contributed to the costs (at least without the expectation of being paid back) of rebuilding Axis countries. We paid reparations to Japan, but loaned money to much of Europe, including a pretty significant sum to Germany. Interestingly, many European countries got upset that we actually expected to be paid back. We have since been paid back, so the remaining debt from the World Wars is purely American. We started out before WWI with almost no debt, but haven’t been under about 30% of the GDP since.
          http://qz.com/290183/in-2014-countries-are-still-paying-off-debt-from-world-war-one/
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_debt_of_the_United_States#/media/File:51129-land-summaryfigure1(1).png
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_United_States_public_debt#/media/File:Federal_Debt_Held_by_the_Public_1790-2013.png

          • Submitted by Jim Million on 08/12/2016 - 03:44 pm.

            Excellent Addendum

            Hope you don’t see my comment as advocacy. It’s just an oft-avoided reality of past economic “success.”
            I offer this as just one more caution regarding Mid-East adventures. Without the prospect of “re-building” programs (in the sand?), the U.S. economy likely will not receive past positive benefits.

            Caution to future adults: There is likely no historic economic benefit to winning the war of terrorism. Our administrative infrastructure expense in new departments, new defenses, etc. have no direct repayment mechanism to support this increased debt or increased and prolonged operating expense. This is the unspoken threat of terrorism: we suffer many small wounds, wounds that do not heal, but continue to bleed our strength without promise of economic revitalization.

          • Submitted by Howard Miller on 08/14/2016 - 03:02 pm.

            about rebuilding after WWII

            some 60 million people died in that war. The Soviets lost more than 25 million, the Germans more than 7 million, the French some 3 million (including “french indochina”) … Italy, 472,000, the UK 450,000 and US 419,000.

            We lost a lot of great Americans, but our human losses were comparatively small to those suffered by others. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties)

            More importantly, we didn’t have our industrial base bombed to dust, like just about everyone in Europe, much of Asia experienced.

            We enjoyed monopoly supplier status to the world for durable goods post WW II. We were uniquely in a position to bankroll reconstruction of Europe and Japan, and we were wise to do it. Former enemies are now friends, prospering.

  3. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 08/11/2016 - 10:50 am.

    American exceptionalism

    What I see with Clinton is a politician that is picking their way across a mine field.

    Of course she believes in “American exceptionalism” because the simple bald statement that “American exceptionalism is BS” would blow up like an atomic mine in the “Clinton as demon” world. So she comes up with a tap-dancing example of what she thinks makes America great and the relatively unusual history of the US, but never comes to point where she makes a statement that “American exceptionalism” is justification of supremacy above all nations. She gives a specific definition that she can feel comfortable with. It’s called being politically aware.

    This is what happens when the infantilization of discourse happens. There are “trigger words” that people want to use to build outrage over.

  4. Submitted by Jim Million on 08/11/2016 - 11:11 am.

    Try this:

    1. We are exceptional in having been the largest colonial cluster of a major world power, a cluster that successfully amalgamated into a confederation that bonded to reject that relationship in successful revolution, independence, survival…and success.

    2. We are exceptional in producing a successful form of public governance respecting that fundamental confederation of individuality. We have a purpose-built model that is not a Parliament.

    Sure, many of us like to nibble around the edges of these foundations; however, only a few of us would prefer either dictatorship or essential “communalism.”

    [Academic Observation: Those who wish to not be leaders tend to sit in the back of the class.]

  5. Submitted by Jim Million on 08/11/2016 - 11:25 am.

    Oops, Forgot:

    Another excellent MinnPost photo here.
    The obvious knee jerk would draw a diagonal line through “Yes.”

    I’m simply musing over “Hill Street Blues.”

  6. Submitted by Jim Million on 08/11/2016 - 11:43 am.

    “Hills and Valleys”

    Pretty much summarizes my 2016 view. No “peaks,” for sure.

  7. Submitted by kaimay terry on 08/11/2016 - 04:04 pm.

    What is national happiness?

    Do we have to be number ONE in any and every way in the whole wide world to be satisfied and happy? Can we appreciate goals and values like cooperation, sharing, win-win, harmony, accepting or even just tolerating differences in our dealings with other nations, societies, religions and people?

  8. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 08/11/2016 - 09:09 pm.

    Equine

    I hesitate to beat the dead horse, but once again – and in so many ways, both for some individuals and the society as a whole – we’ve seen in the past generation, and are seeing now (including, but not limited to, the current presidential campaign) what William Fulbright called, accurately, I think, “The Arrogance of Power.”

  9. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 08/12/2016 - 06:56 am.

    Exceptionalism

    At our best, America is exceptional. Much of the time we are not. When Bush decided on presumptive war with a make believe justification, the anger over 9-11 overcame our better judgment. We were tricked into supporting an unnecessary war that we were totally unprepared for. It was a national mistake – purely bipartisan. Some of us said, what is the rush. An immediate threat wasn’t proven, but the Bush team argued it needed to be now, with their faulty assumptions preventing a serious commitment to pay for it with new taxes.

    Once again civilian leadership underestimated the opponent. That British and Russian troops had lost in Afghanistan and we have never found a solution in Israel didn’t deter our arrogance. We seem to swing between timid isolationists and bold world policemen, rather than picking our fights carefully and achieving our objectives.

    That is a national problem, not an individual one. At least Hillary has shown she will defer to the military on tactics, not claiming to be smarter than the generals. Cheney and Rumsfeldt felt they were smarter than Colin Powell when it comes to military strategy – how stupid and arrogant is that? Generals really don’t like war, but if they must, they want to win quickly, have minimal losses and get out of the way, not occupy.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 08/12/2016 - 01:37 pm.

      Speak For Yourself

      I was one of many who were not “tricked into supporting an unnecessary war.”

      Anyone who did not see through the flimsy justifications of the Bush admin just was not looking very hard.

  10. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/12/2016 - 09:12 am.

    Exceptionalism

    might be dated from the concept of Manifest Destiny (that we had the right to all of the land in North American from the Atlantic to the Pacific). That dates from 1845.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/12/2016 - 02:30 pm.

      Even Further than That

      Arguably, the idea goes back to John Winthrop’s “City on the Hill” sermon, in which he said that “the eyes of the world are upon us.” Hamilton and Jefferson both enunciated some variation on the idea that the United States was to be an example for the other nations of the world.

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/15/2016 - 08:28 am.

    Even further than that that!

    Actually American Exceptionalism finds its origins in the Christianity that Columbus brought with him on his search for the Orient. The discovery of heathens that required salvation and conversion to the one true religion was the first expression of what would become American Exceptionalism on the American continents.

    The refrain is the same throughout the centuries, where we go so goes salvation.

    By the time we get to the American Revolution the framers are in the grips of the Enlightenment rather than the Pope so emphasis has changed somewhat from religious salvation to the salvations of liberal democracy (although Christianity is still a big player, look at who ran the boarding schools) but the mentality is same. Whereas the Conquistadors wondered why heathens would resist Christ, “modern” Americans wondered why the “Indians” resisted civilization much the same way modern modern Americans wondered why the Vietnamese resisted Capitalism and the Iraqi’s resisted Democracy. We’re “helping these people, why don’t they get it?”

    American Exceptionalism simply nationalized religious proselytization. The thing about American Exceptionalism is that there absolutely nothing exceptional about it, it’s colonization pure and simple, and THAT’S been around for thousands of years.

    Colonizers from Columbus to the Boer in South Africa to the coalition of the willing in Iraq always tell themselves that they’re bring salvation when in fact they bring death, destruction, and ruin. The idea that the G.I.s in Vietnam were different than the Redcoats in the “Colonies” is nationalistic delusion pretending to be a fight for freedom.

    Exceptionalism is one our national myths, but it not a new or unique myth.

  12. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/15/2016 - 08:41 am.

    Hillary Clinton and liberal democracy

    Hillary Clinton simply isn’t a “liberal”, she’s a moderate republican. I’ve never had any doubt that if the Clinton’s had thought they could get elected as republicans back in the 80s they would have been republicans. The only reason they’re democrats is they correctly concluded that the republican party was leaving Eisenhower behind and it would be easier to move the democrats to the right than it would be to move the republicans to the left in the 80’s.

    This was a shrewd observation on their part at the time to be sure, but it left us with a democratic elite that represents the wealthy elite and pays little more than lip service to any truly liberal agenda.

    It’s interesting to note that Hillary, when describing American Exceptionalism talks about our willingness to change. The fact is HRC instinctively rejects any suggestion of significant change. To this day her campaign has no significant policy objectives beyond being Hillary in the White House. Her own initiatives are about as ambitious as dry toast and we can expect her support for Sanders’s more ambitious proposals will evaporate under the light of “pragmatism” once she’s elected.

  13. Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 08/15/2016 - 08:51 am.

    I was taught

    That exceptionalism (or on a personal level – character) is defined by actions, not words. The more you claim to have, the less you really have.

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