Ryan Rhodes, spokesperson for the Iowa Tea Party, defended the statewide organization after an affiliate, the North Iowa Tea Party, erected a controversial billboard in Mason City.
The billboard, which has been papered over, pictured President Obama, Adolph Hitler and Vladimir Lenin under the phrases, “Democrat Socialism,” “National Socialism” and “Marxist Socialism.” The word “change” appeared under each image and above the phrase “Radical leaders prey on the fearful and the naïve.”
Rhodes, in a statement to CNN (LINK), said the billboard did an injustice to the Tea Party cause of “American exceptionalism.”
If the reader wants a dissertation-level understanding of “American Exceptionalism,” there are plenty of online entries and even books on the subject.
A fairly simple definition opens the Wikipedia entry:
“American exceptionalism is the theory that the United States occupies a special niche among the nations of the world in terms of its national credo, historical evolution, political and religious institutions and its being built by immigrants. The roots of the belief are attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville, who claimed that the then-50-year-old United States held a special place among nations, because it was the first working representative democracy.”
Opponents of the theory put it in simpler terms: “jingoism” and “nationalist propaganda.”
Ironically, other political entities claiming such an exceptional destiny were the Third Reich and the U.S.S.R.
I love the country of my birth. I’m sure Mr. Rhodes’ Tea Party does, too, although many in its ranks would deny President Obama’s love of the country of his birth.
A myopic view of exceptionalism, howeve, does not allow for correcting faults and righting wrongs. A claim of perfection denies a need for improvement and results in stagnation. It impedes the “change” mocked by the billboard and brought about by such Democratic programs as the New Deal, the New Frontier and the Great Society. In each of these programs a Democratic president moved America beyond the restrictive bounds of poverty, parameters, prejudice and its own self-importance.
Once more this nation has a leader with a progressive vision encompassing all its citizens, and a “confederacy of dunces” has risen up to put him down.
Sometime this morning, DemWit, my stepchild blog, will mark 20,000 visits. Thanks to you!