R&P – American Exceptionalism and America First

„Today, nothing captures the rhetoric of American exceptionalism better than the phrase “city on a hill,” a phrase Donald Trump never uses. President Reagan used this expression the most, and the end of his career summarized what it meant to him. In his 1989 “Farewell Address,” he called on Americans to study history, for “if we forget what we did, we won’t know who we are.” Then he closed by reflecting on John Winthrop, the first Puritan governor of Massachusetts Bay, who was “an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man.” According to Reagan, he founded America as a “shining city upon a hill,” and many years later, “she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.”

Such statements demonstrate how American exceptionalism works. It ties a sense of what America stands for to a claim about how America began. It tells a story which gives a purpose.”


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