United States

Jun 19, 2017

How Trump destroyed America’s claims to ‘exceptionalism’

For the first time in a long time, we are seeing an unexceptional nation that failed to show leadership when leadership was needed most, writes freelance journalist Bernadette Anvia.

Donald Trump and US exceptionalism

In a few years’ time, the inevitable analysis of the Trump presidency and its historical legacy will begin. Political commentators and historians from across the world will weigh in on Trump’s foreign and domestic policies, his political convictions, his opinion polls, his rapport with his colleagues and fellow world leaders and his responses to national and international crises. Each will evaluate the enigma that is Donald J. Trump, and each will attempt to answer that age-old question of American democracy: was he a good leader?

The answer, of course, will be no. They will find him to be the president who single-handedly destroyed everything America once stood for, and believed in.

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

14 thoughts on “How Trump destroyed America’s claims to ‘exceptionalism’

  1. Barbara Haan

    Tuck frump and his ludicrous covfefe. Even more alarming, our Pauline and her followers, along with the far right wing of Oz politics, revere him.

  2. Roger Clifton

    If you think that climate change is maybe as bad as an atom bomb, then you don’t know much about climate change. Even in polemical terms, the two issues are chalk and cheese. The fading bogey belongs to baby boomers, the rising issue to millenials.

  3. Hillis Mark

    Bernadette, are you really suggesting that there was something laudable about American exceptionalism, or that the perpetuation of such false mythology and self-deluding politics is commendable in the person of anyone else than Trump? I’m aghast at the thought. Mark.

    1. Will

      If so, I’d agree, Mark.
      But I suspect Bernadette is actually meaning to suggest that the US under Trump is foolishly abandoning its longstanding ‘soft power’ advantage of being able to ask for – and, let’s face it, usually receive – international recognition of exceptional status as first among (liberal) equals. This would be a status earned by ongoing good deeds, rather than one demanded by the delusional ‘false mythology’ of exceptionalism you invoke.
      So, I take Bernadette’s point to be that abandoning the Paris Accord in the name of “America First” is actually a betrayal of America’s self interest: America is ceding a power advantage for no actual gain. Confusingly, though, she muddies these waters by portraying this damage as hurting ‘American exceptionalism’, something that nobody except (some) Americans have ever bought into.
      It is a confused and confusing criticism Bernadette makes here, because no serious person would ever expect America’s international actions to accord with myths designed solely to serve domestic consumption. By all means be aghast at such myths, but perhaps be more aghast at them taking purchase, as here, well beyond America’s shores.

  4. klewso

    How hard can it be to destroy a basket case?
    Bush the Younger, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz were all ‘exceptional’ – before that there was Nixon …..
    At least Dump hasn’t invaded Iraq or some other country (with us in tow) yet -> “ISIS II”?
    What he illustrates is that old saying about how “anyone can become the PotUS”?

  5. Desmond Carroll

    A matter of grammar:
    “… America has strode through the world …” should read
    “America strode through the world …” or “America has stridden through the world ….”
    Either is correct.
    Fraternal regards.

    1. Tony Walker

      Desmond…. That was the bit that discombulated me the most, but I hadn’t put my finger on why. I can settle now. Thanks Comrade.

    2. Marion Wilson

      According to the New Fowler, Modern English Usage, stridden is described as rare and quotes the popular magazine The Face (Nov.1987 )”Great strides are being strode in the cultivation of pre-teen female engineers.”
      Whatever…. don’t write “has strode” it hurts my ears.

    3. AR

      I’m not sure how a beacon strides, anywhere.
      Possibly the author meant ‘straddled’ as in a barbed wire fence but, to judge from the rest of the wonky prose and poorly assembled cliches – “since WWI … the world has looked to America…to achieve world security against various existential threats.” etc – perhaps another field of endeavour might suit.
      She seems to be a reasonable proficient, if uncreative, photographer.

  6. gerald butler

    When I heard the news about America withdrawing from the Paris agreement I thought you selfish, gun loving, creationist, racist, anti science, money worshipping , arrogant bastards. Then I realised half the country doesn’t think like that. Still the shining city on a hill is covered in shit.

  7. bref

    I think the USA is now in an accelerating decline spiral. I think they will become increasingly polarised, self-absorbed and less relevant. The rest of the world will rearrange their alliances and commitments. Some US states are committed to climate change and the rest of the world will just have to deal with the situation as is.

  8. old greybearded one

    American exceptionalism has simply meant the right to interfere in every corner of the world where there is a fast buck. It has been as corrupt as a Borgia pope for decades, overthrowing governments not because of democracy, but ideology and greed. The IDEALS of the US are laudable, but the nation is not. trump has not destroyed exceptionalism. He has destroyed the integrity of his office.

  9. AR

    I tried hard to find something positive about this article but it was not possible.
    One welcomes a new writer with a fresh view, if well thought out, but this was no such thing.
    Stale cliches, declamations without evidence – …a global security threat that grows daily., unwarranted assumptions and truly appalling writing – “For the first time in an extremely long time,…For the first time in a long time,…” – read like the first essay in a high school creative writing class.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details