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Article: Sanders, Trump, and the War Over American Exceptionalism

A big reason that politics interests me is because it reflects cultural trends, and the bonkers way that this election is going suggests that America is changing. The Atlantic has a short article, Sanders, Trump, and the War Over American Exceptionalism. Excerpt:

While grassroots Democrats and Republicans remain divided over the size of government, increasingly, what divides them even more is American exceptionalism. In ways that would have been unthinkable in the mid-20th century, the boundaries between American and non-American identity are breaking down. Powered by America’s secular, class-conscious, transnational young people, Democrats are embracing an Americanism that is less distinct than ever before from the rest of the world. And the more Democrats do, the more likely it is that future Trumps will rise.

More from the article:

Chroniclers of American exceptionalism have long argued that the reason Americans eschew socialism is because they don’t see themselves as members of a fixed class. Instead, they see their economic position as fluid. As Marx himself said, “Though classes, indeed, already exist [in the United States], they have not yet become fixed, but continually change and interchange their elements in a constant state of flux.”

Young Americans, the population to whom Sanders appeals most, don’t believe that. Polls show that they are far more likely than their elders to believe that the rich got that way because they “know the right people or were born into wealthy families” than because “of their own hard work, ambition and education.” Older Americans overwhelmingly identify themselves as “haves.” A majority of younger Americans, by contrast, call themselves “have nots.” Older Americans overwhelmingly call themselves members of the “middle class.” Young Americans are almost as likely to call themselves “lower class.”….


This entry was posted in: Ideas & Short Essays


Writer. In the summers, I live and work in the incredible state of Alaska, in the bush community of McCarthy; I pass the winters in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. I'm working on a memoir-based nonfiction book on the American Dream. I blog, quite frequently, and I also have a novel in process, set in Alaska.

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