To learn more, click below to read essays by Hoover Institution fellows on the nature of American Exceptionalism. These essays appear in the book American Exceptionalism in a New Era, edited by Thomas W. Gilligan.
The authors show how America and its people have prospered and emerged as global leaders by prizing individuality and economic freedom and explore key factors in America’s success, including immigration, education, divided government, light regulation, low taxes, and social mobility. America isn’t perfect, they argue, but it is exceptional.
Taken together, the essays form a broad exploration of American attitudes on everything from tax rates and property rights to the role of government and rule of law. They examine the beliefs of statesmen including Alexis de Tocqueville, Abraham Lincoln, Herbert Hoover, and Ronald Reagan—each of whom considered America fundamentally different from other nations.
Finally, they outline the ways American exceptionalism may be in decline, with consequences both at home and abroad. At a time when “the idea of the American dream is not in high repute in our public discourse,” the authors collectively argue that the United States must continue to believe in itself as exceptional and indispensable or else face a world where America no longer sets the standard.
Schake calls our attention to the uniqueness of the post-World War II American-led order. The United States used its superpower status to create a system that didn’t depend on dominance over others. The genius of the American order, according to Schake, is that it is largely self-reinforcing. Our system encourages other nations to adopt stable behaviors like instituting the rule of law and political liberty to check otherwise aggressive or belligerent behavior. Because the United States legitimated its power by allowing itself to be constrained by the same rules that bound others, it has not engendered the same magnitude of opposition other hegemonies have traditionally faced. [DOWNLOAD .PDF]
Hanson tours numerous historical examples where America’s unique attributes led to greater peace and prosperity worldwide. At the same time, he warns that America’s values are not predestined to remain constant. America should neither withdraw from the world nor turn away from the attributes that have made it stand out among every other country. [DOWNLOAD .PDF]
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