“By Design And Choice”

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 26 2012 @ 7:34pm

Pierre Manent, the French political philosopher, claims to believe in American exceptionalism – based especially on the circumstances of our founding:

It is difficult not to, because it is the only political experiment that succeeded. There is a nice passage in Joseph de Maistre, the counter-revolutionary, the enemy of the French Revolution, where he says that human beings are not able to build things, because when they try to create something they do not get it. You cannot really produce new and interesting things. It is just given, by the process of history, by God, or whatever. And if there is a case where he was wrong, it is in the case of the United States of America. It’s the only successful political foundation, as the Federalists would say, "by design and choice."

It is not a question of agreeing with American policy or politics, I think, but if you are not able to treat the United States for the great political-civic accomplishment it is, you miss something huge in the political landscape, and your view of politics in general is biased. And really, I do not want to look like a flatterer of the United States, but it is my experience that people who have good judgment in general about political things all some way or another have a sympathetic understanding of America.

Previous coverage of American exceptionalism here, here and here.