American Exceptionalism


Collin Smith, Opinion Editor

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The American experiment so far has been defined by these values grounded in enlightenment thinking. They are responsible for America’s flourishing and are what our forefathers desperately fought to preserve. The concept of American exceptionalism is not a misguided claim nor is it grossly patriotic; it is a simple recognition of history and values.

The founding fathers on July 4th, 1776 did something special when they declared independence. Most of human civilization up to that point, save for a few Greek city states, had been centered around government. Kings gave decrees and people followed; governmental power was limitless and the rights of the people were merely a second thought. What the founders did was flip this dynamic. They recognized that rights were given by nature and that people, not government, are the center of power. This simple change in dynamic made America truly exceptional.

Since that moment, America’s story progressed in a similarly exceptional way. It’s not achievements like landing a man on the moon or pioneering west that make American history exceptional; but rather, the rotary clubs, church gatherings, and PTA meetings. Any country could do the big things, but the small things make us great. One can know this to be true by simply going to a friday night high school football game, a state fair, or city council meeting.

So when the question is asked “what do American Conservatives want to conserve?” The answer is simple: America. This definition is short yet incredibly meaningful. Conservatives recognize the greatness of America is found in her values and people. The present political situation is especially dangerous for America. Not only does legislation matter but culture does too, and when we get too caught up in polarization and desires for radical change, we risk losing what made us great.