Rick Perry’s Version Of American Exceptionalism

Aug 14 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

"And if prayer doesn't work, we'll kill the %#@&$!!"

Now that Rick Perry has taken to the podium (a more secular one this time around), and told the world what it already knew, that he is running for President, it’s time to become familiar with the man. After all, as we are consistently told by media types who are simply following a narrative that they did not write, nor likely understand, Perry could win the Republican nomination.

There may be some truth to that, but as a fact it certainly doesn’t speak much to Perry’s quality, or lack thereof, as a person. Rick is supposed to have massive donor rolls to call upon, and with his assumed closeness to religious conservatives (who turn out in droves for primaries), he could fuel a victory. And if not, there is always Texas, no small prize, waiting for him.

Once his campaign site was turned on, in the spirit of being informed I raced to its pages ready to be disappointed. And I was, but a gem at the bottom of the about section caught me a bit off guard. Here it is, in full:

Believe Again

A Reagan Republican, Rick Perry will restore confidence in the American Dream and American Exceptionalism.  He will advocate for economic policies that get our country moving again.  He will work to ensure all Americans believe again in the promise of America.

Rick Perry will revive our economy, create jobs and protect America’s place as the world’s economic leader.  He will offer a clear vision for our foreign policy that is based on American interests and a profound respect for the men and women who wear the uniform of our country.

It’s time for a leader who will allow us to believe again – to believe that America’s best days are ahead, that we are not consigned to a fate of high unemployment and rising prices, and that our place in the world can once again be secure with a policy of peace through strength.

That leader is Rick Perry.  And his time is now.

That is a small mountain of pandering doggerel that should cause Perry to wince, if he has any taste.

That aside, what struck me immediately is the tone of the message, that America is a unique entity, an idea even, whose resonance must be constantly honed. And even more unsettling, pressed upon its citizens: “He will work to ensure all Americans believe again in the promise of America.” One can’t help but feel slightly creepy at the implication.

Worse, the notion of American exceptionalism abounds. Perry, or frankly whoever wrote the poor copy, is trying to make average Americans feel special simply for being born into this country. He is effectively saying that the location of one’s birth can put a person above the rest. This is odd, because the core differences that have made America unique at certain points in its history, such as its complete separation of church and state, are things that Perry finds to be, as his actions make plain, sticky.

What Perry does find to be ‘American’ is a strong military (peace through strength, echoing Orwell’s WAR IS PEACE), the American Dream (an overblown telling of moderate economic mobility), and being at the top of the heap (our ‘place in the world’). Having a large and powerful military, slight class fluidity, and global importance are all things that China, and a fistful of other countries, can lay claim to. Those are hardly what makes American unique, and certainly not what makes it ‘special,’ if one wanted to mount that argument.

But perhaps most despondent in the entire short entry is the idea that Americans are not exceptional at all, but are in fact abject dolts mired in their own normalcy, waiting for help. Read the entry again, and listen to it describe our national woes. Then check and see its prescription: Rick Perry. The list of problems that we Americans are supposedly suffering from certainly could not all be blamed on Obama, even by Perry, and therefore America is simply weak, and needs help to ‘believe again.’

In other words, buck up you schmucks, a savior is coming.

Well count me out, I don’t want to be saved by Perry any more than I want to be saved by his theoretical Jesus.

Welcome to the race, Perry, I already don’t like you.

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