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Liberals Giving Up On American Exceptionalism

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Mainstream media has become defeatist, abandoning the notion that Americans are uniquely able to accomplish great things. Worse yet, members of congress, mostly Democrats but some Republicans too, have become similarly defeatist. How sad.


When confronted with challenges, danger, or catastrophe, their common response is to shirk. These defeatists seem to think that Americans lack the grit, ingenuity, and raw courage to tackle complicated problems.

Consider the typical Democrat response to some recent crises. When there was an oil spill in the Gulf—Democrat leaders recommended that all off-shore drilling be abandoned. When there was an accident in a West Virginia coal mine, they urged Americans to adopt a strategy to move away from coal-fueled energy. When there was an accident at a nuclear power plant six thousand miles away, Democrat leaders championed avoidance, suggesting that no new permits should be issued and building and operation of nuclear plants in America should be discouraged.

In each of these cases, the defeatists seemed to be saying is that America was no longer capable of inventing better solutions to solve these and other challenges--better to just give up after any setback. They seem to imply that the problems are just too tough and our skills just too feeble. This ideology of despair was most succinctly captured by a journalist who suggests that America abandon nuclear power, claiming that "if Japan can't do it, no one can."


This peculiarly Democrat ideology of defeatism ignores some of America’s greatest strengths--our ability to innovate, to adapt and to overcome setbacks. Those on the Left are deliberately discouraging a belief in American exceptionalism. They do this by fear-mongering, encouraging helplessness and obstructing individual efforts.

In the past, obstacles, even failures, have been viewed by Americans as an opportunity to excel, as a chance to overcome and to gain the advantage by learning from mistakes and making a better product or service.

The airplane is a prime example. In the early 1900s, Wilbur and Orville Wright were undeterred by the seemingly insurmountable challenges in creating the first fixed-wing aircraft able to sustain heavier than human flight—even though many others before them had died trying. Charles Lindberg’s famous flight across the Atlantic almost 85 years ago wouldn’t have happened in the current environment because too many crashes and failed attempts had already occurred. But Lindberg’s innovation and perseverance sparked a flame that created an entire industry in the U.S.

With innovation there has always been the possibility of danger, but instead of abandoning the concept because of failures and dangers, Americans have always persevered and newer, safer and often cheaper technologies or solutions emerged from the failures of the past.


Instead of calling upon American innovation and competitiveness to overcome the problems of nuclear power plants or off-shore drilling, President Obama’s solution is to maximize the drama to advance his political agenda, then to discourage or discard the effort, perhaps because the President doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism either.

Obama doesn’t seem to believe that Americans are more innovative, more creative, more daring and more able to make a difference. It’s as if he and other Democrat leaders have given up on America’s greatness and want to manage expectations by lowering the bar of achievement.

Americans deserve a president who believes that we are an exceptional nation, capable of achieving everything that is good and great. We deserve a president who acknowledges and appreciates the extraordinary contributions in educational, defense, industry, medicine, technology and philanthropy that Americans have made to the world in the past 235 years. Nor are we finished.

America has enormous talent that can be summoned to accomplish great feats and achievements that the rest of the world believes impossible. A man on the moon? No problem. The U.S. can do that in less than ten years. Create a way to immediately communicate with anyone, anywhere in the world, via data packet exchanges that look like documents,that sound like phone calls, that have movie-caliber videos and that creates a social media network to share this data with billions of the world’s inhabitants? Piece of cake!


We have the talent. What the nation lacks is a leader capable of summoning the nation’s abilities. So far, all we seem to be getting is the thin gruel of defeatism that urges us to abandon hope, because the problems are just too hard.

I, for one, am sick of it.

We are a great people, capable of great sacrifices and great accomplishments. If only President Obama would believe it too.

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