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  • Thumbnail for Who built it? an analysis of American exceptionalism in contemporary politics
    Who built it? an analysis of American exceptionalism in contemporary politics by Wallace, Amanda Jean

    Shortly after becoming President of the United States in 2009, Barack Obama was asked by a reporter in Strasbourg, France whether or not he adhered to a philosophy of American exceptionalism. The reporter intended to mean whether Obama believed the United States is uniquely qualified to lead the world. The President began his response with the following: “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” A year later, Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney wrote a book where he alleges this response proves President Obama “doesn't believe [American exceptionalism] at all” and criticized him for that stance. Furthermore, President Obama's response was brought up again during the 2012 election when Governor Romney challenged him for the Presidency. Even though the quote above is only the beginning of his entire reply, the entire exchange highlights the role American exceptionalism still plays in the political sphere. My essay emphasizes three important questions: the definition of American exceptionalism, its previous and current role in politics, and assessments of its validity from both advocates and critics.