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October 28, 2012

American exceptionalism

To me it is glaringly obvious that the USA is exceptional.  It is overwhelmingly the world's predominant military power and also the source of most of the world's innovations.

So the interesting question is not "if" but "why".  WHY is America so dominant?  In a recent article Podhoretz sets out most of the usual reasons, starting from the foundation of the USA in an independence revolution.  He sees the principles set out by the revolutionaries at that time as having had an enduring influence.

I imagine that they did have an influence for a long time but only conservative intellectuals and activists seem to know of them now.  Thanks to the Leftist takeover of the schools, the average American these days knows nothing substantial about the American founding, if anything at all.  How much does the average black or Hispanic know?  Yet they all have votes  -- and there's a lot of them.

And America is now very socialist.  As Romney rightly if imprudently pointed out, around half of the population now depend on government handouts.  Not much rugged individualism there!   Given the huge and unfunded Federal spending now happening, it could in fact be argued that America is in the midst of a socialist meltdown right now.  Nothing Romney has proposed is capable of reining in the overspend.

But if none of the usual explanations of America's exceptionalism now work, what can it be that makes America so powerful in every sense?  I think it is both extraordinarily simple and much more enduring than all of the other influences that have come and gone:  The fact that there is a national election every two years.  If the ruling party goes off the rails you only have to wait two years to give them a boot up the backside  -- as we vividly saw in the 2010 mid-terms.  There is only so much damage you can do in two years so the damage done by political folly is much less in America.  Most governments are still getting into their stride at the two-year mark and they have to take into account the forthcoming election long before that.

Other countries have three or four year terms before a national government has to face a new election and Britain has horrific five-year terms.  And huge messes can be created, and have been created, in five years. Just look at the problem created by the last British Labour Party government's "open door" immigration policy.  Britain is now lumbered with millions of welfare-dependent parasites who have to be supported by the staggering British taxpayer. At least most of America's "illegals" come to work.

If ever the American socialists (so-called "liberals") wake up to the fact that two-year terms are their enemy, America might have a problem but until then there is hope.  And even liberals might have difficulty in arguing that frequent elections are "unfair".




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