North Texas Daily

American issues need exceptional solutions

American issues need exceptional solutions

October 22
23:16 2012

American exceptionalism is a broad term used to describe a spectrum of beliefs about asserting our country’s superiority over other nations. These beliefs arose from the fact that our nation was the first major experiment as a representative democracy during the enlightenment.

History seems to show that the experiment worked, and therefore we are “superior” in political theory. But we tend to forget that America’s founding wasn’t our achievement, but the success of our ancestors.

Meanwhile, we face an out of control military-industrial complex, the second highest global incarceration rate, a never-ending war on drugs and a massive debt that continues to grow. It seems that the evidence of our generation being exceptional Americans is stacked against us.

The problems in our country have simple solutions, but we keep fighting for a romantic ideal of America rather than today’s reality. Our brain-dead political climate and the incorrigibility of our politicians can only be blamed on those who vote for them every year. Do we only see politics in shades of red and blue?

Considering that Congress has a pitiful 10 percent approval rating, the answer is probably no. If we really think our politicians are ineffective, why don’t we get rid of them? Simply put, we are blinded by our exceptionalism.

Our mass society acts upon childish impulses, favoring easy short-term gain over making big sacrifices for long-term prosperity. This doesn’t just happen on the national level, but in every form of our government.

With more than 900 military bases around the world and a defense budget that dwarfs the next 17 nations combined, we still want to spend more. Our private prisons incentivize our economy and government to incarcerate people, putting them in an environment that perpetuates violence instead of reducing it.

We spend hundreds of millions enforcing unenforceable drug laws and do more damage to communities than the drugs themselves. We subsidize our economy to be dependent on government funding, and this doesn’t even touch on our problems with health care.

These problems stem from a childish public attitude, one that lacks the modesty to admit that each generation must create their own ideal of an exceptional nation. Our government cannot persist on recycled principles from the ’80s and ’90s – it’s time for us to grow up. Fixing America’s problems takes the willingness to experiment with our government and make tough decisions like we did when our nation was born.

Our refusal to adapt is an acceptance of defeat – and “defeat” isn’t in the American vocabulary.

Andrew McGinnis is an English senior. He can be reached at

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