Originally Posted by stephanie
I take the argument that "American should be better" seriously, and thus that the mere fact that most nations may torture doesn't mean that's a basis for us to do so seriously. American exceptionalism could mean that we hold ourselves to higher standards, based on what we should be, not on what others are or what we've been.
I have to admit that the "we/us" you express above is not something that I feel deeply. I know that a lot of people like Rfrobison resent that lack of national identity in liberals, and he may have a point. I think it's a little crazy to be willing to die (or kill) or even make significant sacrifice for the USA, for example, whereas many Americans think not to do so is disloyal and sleazy.
I like to think that most everything that matters in life transcends national, ethnic and religious identity. I respect patriotism the same way I respect religious beliefs, but I'm agnostic on both.
I get that exceptionalism could mean holding oneself to a higher standard. I grew up with that notion as a member of "the Chosen People." The idea was that we were NOT chosen because we were better than others but rather because we would be held to a higher standard of goodness.
I think American exceptionalism is a variation on that Biblical theme, and I understand how it can resonate deeply for many people. It doesn't seem to me, however, to be a good fit for the future. I think what we need is less nationalism and more inclusiveness and global consciousness.
Jon Huntsman might actually get this, but he has to pander. Ron Paul definitely gets it and never panders. Among Democrats, the Mythical Nobel Peace Prize Obama was the very embodiment of global values, but real POTUS Obama didn't turn out that way. I think he will revert to his core values after his presidency, much like Jimmy Carter did.