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.
George Nash chronicles the less-known aspects of President Hoover’s life, as well as the contrast that Hoover’s travels offered to him between America and the rest of the world. President Hoover saw America’s “cooperative individualism” in stark contrast to the collectivist notions present in many other countries. While Hoover worked tirelessly to feed Europeans in both world wars, every time he returned home was a “reaffirmation of the glory of America.” [DOWNLOAD .PDF]
Anderson recounts President Reagan’s path to proclaiming America’s exceptional place in the world. Reagan provided confidence and vision for a country that was mired in stagnation. He did so, Anderson believes, through his belief that the American system was morally superior to the Soviet Union’s oppressive regime. [DOWNLOAD .PDF]
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Damon approaches the American experience by evaluating the current attitudes toward the “American Dream” of young Americans. To most of them, it means opportunity, the ability to choose the life you want to live, and the industriousness it takes to get there. Damon supports the view that the American dream is alive and well – as long as we continue educating and supporting the next generation. [DOWNLOAD .PDF]