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Sorry, Republicans, but America's Not So Exceptional Anymore



Ever go to a high school or college reunion where middle-aged people unhappy with their lives try to relive the glory days?

That's kind of what's happening in this year's presidential campaign. At the Republican National Convention, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice made an impassioned case for American exceptionalism, which she described as "a belief in opportunity and a constant battle—long and hard—to extend the benefits of the American Dream to all."

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Vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan followed that up by recalling earlier days when he used to wait tables or mow lawns for a few bucks. "I could think for myself, decide for myself, define happiness for myself," Ryan said. "That's what we do in this country. That's the American Dream."

For Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential nominee, American exceptionalism is a cornerstone of his entire political philosophy. In his 2010 book, No Apology: The Case For American Greatness, Romney professed his belief that the United States enjoys "the protection of Providence" and must heed a special calling to serve as the world's guarantor of freedom. And Romney regularly accuses his Democratic opponent, President Obama, of being an apologist who is insufficiently committed to the idea of American exceptionalism.

Rah rah. The only problem with the "We're No. 1" mantra is that by many measures of national achievement, America doesn't seem so exceptional anymore. It is still one of the world's richest nations, for instance, but 13 nations have higher GDP per capita, including Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, and several Scandinavian countries. A decade ago, only four nations had higher levels, according to World Bank data. U.S. economic output is still increasing (with a break during the 2007-2009 recession), it's just not rising as fast as in a bunch of other countries.

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China's economy will almost certainly eclipse America's as the world's biggest over the next few years. That's not surprising, since China has four times the population of the United States and its economy is growing rapidly. Plus, per-capita income in China is still barely one-tenth what it is in the United States. But if being No. 1, matters, then the United States will matter a little bit less in the future.

Our education system is mediocre. Compared to about 65 other countries, American 15-year-olds rank in the middle on reading and science know-how, and below average on math, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. U.S. educational standards have been sliding for years, which suggests it's a downward national trend unrelated to Democratic or Republican policies in Washington.

As for living standards, the United States ranks 10th on the London-based Legatum Institute's world prosperity index, out of 110 countries. Not bad, but that's down from fourth in 2008. Six European countries, plus Canada, Australia, and New Zealand rank ahead of the United States.

[See who's worse off under President Obama.]

In 2008, the United States ranked No. 1 in global competitiveness, according to the World Economic Forum. Now it's No. 5. Critics of Obama's policies could easily blame him for the decline, but the WEF faults just about everybody in Washington. "Some aspects of the United States' institutional environment continue to raise concern among business leaders, particularly related to low public trust in politicians and concerns about government inefficiency," the WEF said in its latest report.

The United States spends far more money than any other nation on healthcare—even on a per capita basis—but gets worse results. The average U.S. life expectancy of 70 ranks 27th, according to Legatum. America ranks 36th in infant mortality and 60th in the incidence of respiratory disease. It's also the most obese country on earth. The United States is doing better by other measures, but it's the one of the few nations in the world with healthcare costs that are so high they threaten to swamp the entire economy.

American universities are the envy of the world, but they're also becoming so expensive that the cost of a college education for a couple of kids can drown a middle-class family in debt. The exploding cost of education and healthcare is one of the biggest reasons ordinary families are falling behind.

There are still plenty of other areas in which America excels. The U.S. military is the world's biggest, by far, and more than that, it's highly professional, thoroughly effective, and widely admired. Silicon Valley and other technology hubs around the United States continue to lead the world in new business ideas and the funding to execute them. Chicago hot dogs and Memphis barbecue aren't shabby either.

But the most exceptional thing about America these days may be the extent to which it's coasting on accomplishments of the past. That can't last too much longer. Maybe it's time to stop talking about how great we used to be, and start teeing up some fresh achievements.----

Source: http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/rick-newman/2012/08/30/sorry-republicans-but-americas-not-so-exceptional-anymore


Added: Sep-6-2012 Occurred On: Sep-6-2012
By: MB-UK
In:
Politics
Tags: america, decline, lame, country
Location: United States (load item map)
Views: 2860 | Comments: 65 | Votes: 2 | Favorites: 1 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 2
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  • Comment of user 'Rastafelix' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
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    • Comment of user 'MB-UK' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
    • @uschairforcesgt At least in the US you can still call a spade a spade. The UK polizei would toss you in the slammer for a year.

      Posted Sep-6-2012 By 

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    • @TheEvilDead Which is fucked up and needs to be fixed. Along with their bike lanes.

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  • The whole "rah rah we're the best" rhetoric is the reason for the downward slide.

    There's no better way to stop learning than to think you know it all, already.

    Posted Sep-6-2012 By 

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  • Take our minorities and liberals and they can ruin any country, including yours.

    Posted Sep-6-2012 By 

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  • Pretty good article... Straight forward, to the point... Intelligent...

    Posted Sep-6-2012 By 

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  • Obviously it's Obama's fault.

    Posted Sep-6-2012 By 

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  • Chicago Hot Dogs are way past "not too shabby".

    Posted Sep-6-2012 By 

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  • Yeah, as if things are any better in the crumbling EU.

    Posted Sep-6-2012 By 

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  • As much as I agree with this article, America is still the #1 place for any person with money and or education to immigrate too. America is great but unfortunately it's being destroyed by both parties.

    Posted Sep-6-2012 By 

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    • @MrG It's all peaks and valleys. Right now, we're in a bit of a valley. Obama took over a bad deal, but he really fucked it up right at a time when Americans were so ready to just get to work. He just went bat shit nutty on the class warfare, race divisions, attacking everyone and anyone, blaming Bush every 2 seconds...Just blew it. Big time. Time to pull out of the valley and elect Romney.

      Posted Sep-6-2012 By 

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    • @yorba Yes, elect Romney, a man that will continue what Bush started. You Republicans just can't handle the truth. You're so blinded by your loyalty to a party that hates you. If you're not a millionaire, they view you as a dirty peasant!!

      Posted Sep-7-2012 By 

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    • @NinjaChinchilla Actually, the top educated Americans are actually visible minorities. Chinese, Indian, Pakistani... Those are the people ranking highest in the US education system. That is a fact. I hope this doesn't crush your narrow minded view of the US.

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  • republicans often harken back to a time that never existed.

    Posted Sep-6-2012 By 

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  • Still better than anywhere else in the world :)

    Poor, jealous, bitter, british troll...LOL!

    Posted Sep-6-2012 By 

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    • @thinkslaughter Why are Americans moving to Canada in record numbers? All you see in the Greater Toronto Area is American license plates. You're now Canada's Mexico. FACT!!

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  • On the one hand, MB-UK in the UK says the U.S. is not exceptional.
    On the other hand, MB-UK spends his days uploading anti-American videos.
    Two conclusions: MB-UK's a hypocrite, and MB-UK is insanely jealous of the U.S.

    Posted Sep-6-2012 By 

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    • Comment of user 'MB-UK' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
    • @MB-UK Is there any particular reason that so much of your stuff is all america hate?

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    • Comment of user 'MB-UK' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
    • @MB-UK Oh, the muji's have. Believe that. I've been in the front row for a few of those fights.

      I was just curious about the overall trend of what you normally post. Some people do take thing too seriously and it turns into a never ending crusade. Sometimes they have a reason for it.

      In the case of the muji's, they make their reasons pretty obvious. They just hate everyone who isn't them. So meh. But a brit always going after the US gets me curious. Is it politics like some of the others on he More..

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    • @MB-UK You're right, I should address the post subject. Ok, but I'm not going to read it since I know what it says. It was generated by the leftists a while before you got a hold of it, so I heard the main gist of it.

      I'll sum it up. It's bullshit. It's hopelessness. It's apathy. It's why try because we can't do anything.

      I don't buy it. What the republicans, which I do not wholly agree with on everything, are saying, and it's very simple, is that America was great once, and it can be again. T More..

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  • An excellent article and food-for-thought for all western nations. An culture that rewards excellence today instead of rewarding wealth earned yesterday will beat all.

    Posted Sep-6-2012 By 

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  • God Hates Evil Conservatives

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