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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Exceptionalism in Decline?

At The New York Times, Charles Blow writes about the recent Pew survey showing some decline in exceptionalist beliefs:

Even if you put aside the somewhat loaded terminology of cultural superiority, Americans simply don’t seem to feel very positive about America at the moment. A Time Magazine/Abt SRBI poll conducted last month found that 71 percent of Americans believed that our position in the world has been on the decline in the past few years.

And an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey conducted earlier this month found that most Americans believed that we aren’t simply going through tough times as a nation but are at “the start of a longer-term decline where the U.S. is no longer the leading country in the world.”

We are settling into a dangerous national pessimism. We must answer the big questions. Was our nation’s greatness about having God or having grit? Is exceptionalism an anointing or an ethos? If the answers are grit and ethos, then we must work to recapture them. We must work our way out of these doldrums. We must learn our way out. We must innovate our way out.

Here are the results from the NBC poll:

All in all, thinking about where the United States is today, do you feel we are experiencing the kind of tough times the country faces from time to time, or is this the start of a longer-term decline where the US is no longer the leading country in the world?

  • Experiencing a tough time ....... 40
  • Start of a longer-term decline .... 54 [emphasis added]
  • A little of both (VOL) ..... 3
  • Neither (VOL) .... 1
  • Not sure ...... 2