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American Exceptionalism Defined

Updated on May 7, 2016

The Land of the Free

President Obama recently said United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” This was relating to his encouraging Americans to support military strikes on Syria.

Vladimir Putin said in response; It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional… We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.

Does American "Exceptionalism" give us the right, the duty and the moral obligation to police the world and impose our type of government on other countries? Did we do the "right thing" in Iraq? In Afghanistan? In Vietnam?

There is no doubt that America has some exceptional aspects, we are the birthplace of modern democratic governance; religious freedom and freedom of the press yet freedom of speech goes to those with the fattest wallet. Do you want to carry a gun? Then Florida is the place for you, we follow the second amendment and our right to carry guns and shoot young black men trumps any right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

America is an extraordinary place and the world would be a much worse place without us. However, can we rest on our laurels? Much is being said about American Exceptionalism; if you want to run for President, you had better recognize that our America and we Americans are exceptional among countries and peoples. We should all give ourselves a great big pat on the back and elect someone that understands how special we are. Members of the American Communist Party first used the term “American exceptionalism” in the 1920s because of America’s natural resources, industry, and absence of rigid class distinctions. We must be exceptional if even the Commies see it. As to the lack of rigid class distinction, well, when the economy fell apart in 2008, the government bailed us all out, didn’t they? The Wall Street class was important enough to save, how about you?

How special, you ask? Can we back up these claims of exceptionalism with any statistics? Yeah, we live in a world where everything is measured, so, what can we find?

A few words from Slate:
"We’re billed as the land of the free, but we’re actually 47th in press freedom according to Reporters Without Borders, behind Botswana and El Salvador. We’re 10th in economic freedom, according to the Heritage Foundation—not bad, but not quite on the level of Canada or Mauritius. We’re 51st in math and science education",


Largest Military USA = # 1
The US maintains a military expenditure that is 6 times as large as her nearest rival’s expenditure. We spent 687.1 billion dollars in 2010 compared to 114.3 billion spent by China. The rest of the world is just a drop in the bucket; we must be the safest people in the world. I wonder how many people we could provide with medical care and food or how many bridges we could build if we spent less to conquer countries like Iraq. No worry though, we just borrowed the money from the kids. We can pay it back by lowering taxes on business and the rich and cutting services to the elderly and the poor. Hurrah! We’re number 1 !

Bases everywhere

Here's a true American
Here's a true American | Source

Highest rate of obesity USA = # 2

Highest rate of obesity USA = # 2
Now that’s a statistic we can all be proud of, we’re the fattest people on earth although Mexicans, Australians, Greeks, New Zealanders and Britons are not too far behind. We're not talking about an obscure population," said James Zervios, spokesman for the Obesity Action Coalition in Tampa. "We're talking 93 million people." Keep up your end, have another Twinkie, fried. Hurrah! We’re number 1 !

Alas, as of July 2013, Mexico has taken away the number one spot for obesity. Do your part to help us back to number one, have a beer and a bag of chips ehile you wait for the return of Twinkies

The Dunce

Harold Copping - The Dunce
Harold Copping - The Dunce | Source

Ignorance USA = #1

"a global report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development (OECD),
finds that Americans rank well below the worldwide average in just about
every measure of skill" Numbers like these make me so proud to be an
American, or as Homer would say "Doh"! At least we still lead the
world. Check the link for more detailed info.


Most nuclear reactors USA = # 1

We are lucky enough to have104 nuclear reactors in the US with an equivalent amount of deadly nuclear waste waiting for a safe place to call home. NIMBY, Not in my back yard is our catch phrase but maybe we can send it to your neighborhood. We have to get our power from someplace so we can all just hope there will be no Chernobyls or Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Stations in our future. Hurrah! We’re number 1 !

Parable of the Rich Man

Does anyone in America remember the parableof the rich man?
Does anyone in America remember the parableof the rich man? | Source

Income Inequality USA #1

"The U.S. is still more awesome than the rest of the world at making at least one thing. And that thing is income inequality"

A new paper by economists Facundo Alvaredo, Anthony B. Atkinson, Thomas Piketty, and Emmanuel Saez lays out just how the U.S. is better than anybody else at rewarding the rich and keeping the poor in their place.

During the past 40 years, the top one percent has doubled the size their slice of the pie. Where did it come from? Their largess comes out of your pocket.

Yay! We're still good at something!


Highest CO2 emmisions USA = # 1

Highest CO2 emmisions USA = # 1
China is gaining on us rapidly and may soon surpass our contribution of greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere but for the moment the US adds 2530 million tones of CO2 to warm up the globe while China can only muster up 2430 million tones. Who cares? Radio show entertainers have some politicians on their side telling us that global warming is a liberal hoax. The dastardly liberals have convinced throngs of climate scientists to join them in trying to trick the rest of us into believing the big trick. They have even gone so far as to start glaciers and Arctic ice melting just to fool the rest of us. Hurrah! We’re number 1 !

Eugne_Ferdinand_Victor_Delacroix | Source

Highest number of prisoners. USA = # 1

Highest number of prisoners. USA = # 1
The US has 2.3 million criminals behind bars, more than any other nation, according to data maintained by the International Center for Prison Studies at King's College London. China, which is four times more populous than the United States, is a distant second, with 1.6 million people in prison, but this doesn’t include political prisoners. With less than 5 percent of the world's population, we have almost a quarter of the world's prisoners.

We even incarcerate minors for life terms without possibility of parole, not sure about you but I learned a lot after the age of 17. Hurrah! We’re number1 !

Income Inequality

Highest per Capita Income USA = # 3

Highest per Capita Income USA = # 3
Number 3 is pretty exceptional, only two other countries make more per capita than we do, perhaps there is something to our exceptionalism after all. Still, we’re not number one so maybe the Swiss and Norwegians are even more exceptional? According to the per capita income of the US is $37,870, how does your income measure up to the total? The sad truth is that the middle class is shrinking with a few people getting rich and a lot more becoming poor, the unions which used to help people attain middle class status are under attack and the very people who might be helped by the unions are the ones attacking. Hurrah, We're number 3!

Swiss are more competitive

Swiss Alps
Swiss Alps | Source

Competitiveness. USA = # 4

Competitiveness. USA = # 4
The World economic Forum has us rated as number 4 for competitiveness. That’s behind Switzerland, Sweden and Singapore. We remain pretty competitive; certainly, we’re ahead of most of the world in this measure, hurrah! We’re number 4!

Rube Goldberg competition and higher education
Rube Goldberg competition and higher education | Source

Higher education USA = # 6

Higher education USA = # 6
According to The College Completion Agenda2010 Progress Report, the US comes in at number 6 in the number of 25- to 34-year-olds with 40%who hold an associate degree or higher. The Russian Federation comes in at first place with 54% holding degrees. What does this portend for the future of the US? While the rest of the world is studying science and engineering, we’re trying to convince scientists that global warming is a liberal trick and the earth is only 6000 years old. Hurrah! We’re number 6!

Cuban School Bus

We still beat Cuba, here a Cuban school bus
We still beat Cuba, here a Cuban school bus | Source

Highest quality of life USA = # 6

Highest quality of life USA = # 6
According to the BBC the countries with the highest quality of life are ranked as follows: 1 Norway, 2 Sweden, 3 Canada, 4 Belgium, 5 Australia, 6 United States
Hurrah! We’re number 6!

Poor and Black babies are at risk

Lowest infant mortality USA = # 23

Lowest infant mortality USA = # 23
The infant mortality rate is closely linked to inadequate nutrition among pregnant women. The U.S. ranks 23rd among industrial nations in infant mortality. African-American infants die at nearly twice the rate of white infants. One out of every eight children under the age of twelve in the U.S. goes to bed hungry every night. The US is the richest nation that has ever existed on the face of the Earth, but we can’t feed our own people? In much of the world the problem with famine is about location and politics, either people don’t live near the food supply, they are too poor, or their government does nothing to help because of corruption or ideology. What is our excuse? Of course, you do not need to tell me; all the hungry people in this are too lazy to work, they prefer being hungry. Meanwhile the GOP has just proposed cutting funds for food aid in this country and in foreign aid. As Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eat cake.” Hurrah, We're number 23! How exceptional!

How can we oppose abortion but not give babies good health care?
How can we oppose abortion but not give babies good health care?

Freedom USA #33 !!

Recently the Gallup organization asked people from 135 countries about the extent of their freedom. The USA came in after 32 other countries. Of those asked, only "79% of Americans say they’re satisfied with their freedom to choose what to do with their lives, down from 87% in 2008".

The poll did NOT define freedom so there is a lot of subjectivity in the answers.

Welcome to the "Land of the free and home of the brave" There were 20 other countries where the people thought their freedoms were being eroded so, we're in good company. Not just Americans but Afghans and Syrians are among the people who think they are losing freedoms.

Cuban Hospital


Universal access to health care. USA = # 35

Universal access to health care. USA = # 35
Alright, that’s not entirely accurate, truth is there are 34 countries, including all of the industrialized world that have universal health care for their citizens. The following countries all have some form of universal health care. Afghanistan* and Iraq*, have universal health coverage provided by United States war funding Norway, New Zealand , Japan , Germany, Belgium, United Kingdom, Kuwait, Sweden, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Netherlands, Austria, United Arab Emirates, Finland, Slovenia, Denmark, Luxembourg, France, Australia, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece, Spain, South Korea, Iceland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland, Israel. Some of these countries use an insurance mandate similar to the health care plan that conservatives want to eliminate in the US and some have single payer plans or combined plans. Under the Ryan plan for Medicare seniors will receive a set amount to help buy health insurance in the private market. When costs rise, to help keep profits for insurance companies, seniors will have to kick in more of their own money to keep insurance, by 2020, seniors can expect to be paying 12 thousand dollars a year for health care. With medical costs rising, more people say they pray for their own health than invest in alternative medicine or therapy combined. Hurrah! We’re number 35!

Highest Life Expectancy USA = # 36

Highest Life Expectancy USA = # 36
We’re sure to make up in this category, after all America has the “best health care system in the world” doesn’t it? According to the World Health organization WHO, the US is in a 3 way tie for 36th place. Your life expectancy is equal to that of people born in Denmark and Cuba, the evil socialist regime with socialized medicine. We can take pride in the fact that there are only 35 countries with a better life expectancy than we have. Hurrah! We’re number 36! True exceptionalism!

Life expectancy


Maternal Mortality USA = # 50

We may have the "best health care system in the world" but there are only 49 other countries that are better at keeping new mothers alive. It may be unrealistic to think that our health care could do better than such highly developed and wealthy countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia and Poland among 43 others but hey we did better than Lebanon! In your face Lebanon!
Hurrah! We’re number 50!

Disney World

But do you dare take any time off? I might take your job!
But do you dare take any time off? I might take your job! | Source

Vacation and paid time off USA = Dead last

Vacation and paid time off USA = Dead last
Somehow, Switzerland had laws that mandate a minimum of 20 days of paid vacation plus 9 public holidays and they are more competitive than we are. In the US, in order for us to come in at number 4 we have no mandated vacation days and no mandated paid holidays. Sweden has 25 mandated vacation days and 11 holidays while Singapore calls for 14 vacation days and 12 holidays, both of whom are more competitive than we are. Only Vietnam has fewer days of paid vacation for their workers but in the US, the system is voluntary and it is estimated that 1 in4 of us take no time off at all for fear of losing our jobs or our competitiveness in the work place.Hurrah, We can't take any time off!

Are we exceptional?

This has been quite a list of American Exceptionalism, perhaps you can add your own or you’d like to tell me where I have misspoken.

What makes America Exceptional

Is America Exceptional?

See results


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    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      22 months ago from Yorktown NY

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      3 years ago from Yorktown NY

      Of course, we are all a work in progress...However, we are years ahead of the rest of the world in politics, in economics and in military might...I just don' t want your readers to get the wrong impression about our country. Despite all the warts and all, we are still the freest nation in the world and I would't want to live anywhere else.

    • chefsref profile imageAUTHOR

      Lee Raynor 

      3 years ago from Citra Florida

      Not at all Jacklee, I begin with this note to our true exceptionalism: "There is no doubt that America has some exceptional aspects, we are the birthplace of modern democratic governance; religious freedom and freedom of the press yet freedom of speech."

      My only point, buried in snark is that we still have work to do. The recent election points out that our "democracy" is still fragile when the candidate can threaten to arrest his opponent, limit press freedom, ban Muslims etc. I hope Trump surrounds himself with true patriots who follow the Constitution, if not we are all screwed.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      3 years ago from Yorktown NY

      You miss understood what this term really mean. American is exceptional because we are the exception in human history. We are the first government by the people, for the people and have adopted a Constitution that is unique. We treasure freedom and the God given unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    • chefsref profile imageAUTHOR

      Lee Raynor 

      6 years ago from Citra Florida

      Thanx Brian

      Glad you stopped by but where would you like to live?

      In spite of my snarky Hub we do have a few good points

    • profile image

      Brian Curdy 

      6 years ago

      Last country on earth that I would want to live in.

    • Lawrence Turner profile image

      Lawrence Turner 

      6 years ago from Glendora, California

      we are exceptional in that we think we are exceptional ... actually we are just a bunch of fantasists that believe whatever the talking head in the black magic flat screen tells us to believe ! ... thank you Edward Bernays and your uncle Sigmund Freud the Cocaine Pusher for Bayer !

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      The Greatest Country of the World.

    • chefsref profile imageAUTHOR

      Lee Raynor 

      7 years ago from Citra Florida

      I think we would be better off as a country if we concentrated on improving on our shortcomings instead of imposing our will on the world. We have enormous assets in people and natural resources but the benefits go to the top 1 percent while the 99 percent fight and die in the wars and pay the taxes

    • Thomas Swan profile image

      Thomas Swan 

      7 years ago from New Zealand

      Fascinating read, and great use of statistics. Depending on how you use the word, America is certainly exceptional! I suspect the government propaganda would like the word to engender feelings of superiority, but the way I see it, America is exceptional because it is an exception, nothing more. It takes everything to the extreme, good or bad, and this is what makes it such an interesting country. I wonder if all this attention just bolsters the ego of Americans even more! Ah well, it should work itself out in the end. Barring some complete catastrophe, levels of education will continue to rise globally, no matter how much the government wants to prevent it. Eventually this will filter through to better governments.

    • chefsref profile imageAUTHOR

      Lee Raynor 

      8 years ago from Citra Florida

      Thanx Connect..

      We are too quick to pat ourselves on the back while the rest of the world is advancing we may be left in the dust.

    • connecthedots profile image


      8 years ago from U.S.A.

      I love your informative list of areas of American "exceptionalism". Made me laugh several times. I'm rating this up.

    • chefsref profile imageAUTHOR

      Lee Raynor 

      8 years ago from Citra Florida

      Thanx Livelonger, I think there is an arrogance in sitting back and declaring yourself exceptional while we are falling behind in so many areas

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      Funny, and soberingly true. It's good to be aware of and to confront our shortcomings; complacency is nobody's friend.

    • chefsref profile imageAUTHOR

      Lee Raynor 

      8 years ago from Citra Florida

      Thanx Fay, I had to edit this to reflect your info. You were right, we are number 1 we put more people in jail than anyone.

    • chefsref profile imageAUTHOR

      Lee Raynor 

      8 years ago from Citra Florida

      YAY! We're number one! I'll have to find a better source, who am I to deny us our rightful place!

      Thanx Fay

    • profile image

      Fay Paxton 

      8 years ago

      Sounds like we're exceptionally arrogant doesn't it? I have one small dispute...I think the US imprisons more people than any other nation on earth. I distinctly remember reading as much (could have been outdated material). How dare you try to rob us of one of our accolades!

      up/funny and awesome

    • chefsref profile imageAUTHOR

      Lee Raynor 

      8 years ago from Citra Florida

      Thanx Jillian

      Yeah, I don't think I'll be running for office any time soon, as they say I couldn't be elected dog catcher

    • Jillian Barclay profile image

      Donna Lichtenfels 

      8 years ago from California, USA

      Dear Chef,

      This made me laugh! I hope you know that you are NEVER going to be elected President! Your cleverness and style of writing always entertain and educate at the same time! This is no exception! Love it!

      I keep telling you---I am waiting for a book!

    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 

      8 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Totally agree! I found your article through the Hub Hopper. It's been a great tool to find great Hubbers and flag Spam! Glad I found your article and thanks for checking mine out!


    • chefsref profile imageAUTHOR

      Lee Raynor 

      8 years ago from Citra Florida

      Thanx JS, I'm glad you stopped by, now I'll be perusing your articles. What a great way to meet new people and ideas

    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 

      8 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Well researched and very interesting! Great Hub. Voted Up and Useful.



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