PUBLISHER’S NOTE: The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, takes it as an honor to receive a written work as scholarly and philosophical as the one we’re publishing in a 5-part series during the 4th of July. Mark Keough, who is a pastor and educational leader, is also the State Representative, District 15. He’s also running for Montgomery County Judge. The distinction of this intellectual work of Keough’s is rather striking, especially in comparison to the lack of philosophical approach of his 2018 electoral opponent.
“American Exceptionalism: Does It Really Matter? Its Roots and Fruits” (Part 1)
MARK KEOUGH, State Representative and Candidate for Montgomery County Judge, Guest Writer.
Periodically I hear a conservative politicians either currently in office or running a campaign speak about “American Exceptionalism”. They say things like,( and you can fill in the blanks), “American Exceptionalism demands that we ______” or “American Exceptionalism” requires us to do______” or “if we really cared about American Exceptionalism we would_____”. When I hear this, I say to myself “I like this guy. He must really be conservative because he keeps referring to American Exceptionalism. But am I really looking at this the right way? Do I really know what he is saying? Do you?
Let’s just suppose that you are taking a test for your degree in Political Science. If asked, would you be able to explain the historical roots of American Exceptionalism? If so, could you explain the connection between its history and what it came to mean? Would you be able to demonstrate whether or not this connection impacts our country today and whether or not it really matters? To be sure, you could probably give some general answers to these questions, but if you’re degree was depending upon it chances are, like me, you’d fail.
Listen; don’t be too hard on yourself for not knowing. After all, if you were to do even a cursory look at the available books and articles defining the phrase, you would be amazed at the differing ideas having to do with its history, its meaning and whether or not it currently exists in American Culture. As to whether or not it really matters; are you not sure? Again don’t beat yourself up too badly. You are in the company of probably the most famous person on the planet, our own president Barack Obama. When a reporter inquired about his position on American Exceptionalism, he said “I believe in American Exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British Exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek Exceptionalism”. In other words he was clueless.
You maybe are asking yourself “if the president doesn’t really know what American Exceptionalism is and therefore by default can’t possibly be concerned about whether or not it matters, then does it really matter?” The answer is YES! What you believe about American Exceptionalism is at the very heart of who we are as a nation, what we believe about our personal freedoms, about family, our faith, and whether or not we are ruled by the tyranny of government or able to rule ourselves through a government by the people and for the people. And the list of reasons why it matters is almost endless.
So here is the question; if what we believe about American Exceptionalism really does matter then where did this extraordinary concept begin? Read Part 2 to find out.