DENNIS RICHARDS. Trumpism redefines American exceptionalism

Americans shamelessly believe that their nation and their culture are superior and exceptional. Under Trump America’s reputation around the world is depleted. There is a real danger that his may become permanent should Trump be re-elected in November 2020.

The people of the United States of America believe that they and their nation are different from the rest of humanity; they are special. They accept as true that America is morally superior, God-fearing, mighty, righteous, economically-sound and free. This is “American exceptionalism”.

Americans are not taught this so much as fed this as a way of life. Any foreign visitor (aka “alien”) will tell you that, in the main, Americans can be very sensitive to those who appear to question this or put an alternative view or who are differently aligned. In addition, Americans may know little about, or be disinterested in, where you come from. Generally, they cannot readily accept criticism and fail to understand irony or self-deprecation.

Against this ingrained culture we now have President Donald Trump with his catch cries “Make America Great Again” and “America First”. Irony right there; but of course Americans cannot appreciate that. In Trump’s view “greatness” involves inward-looking policies, withdrawal from global organisations and agreements, dismemberment of expert institutions, rejection of independent advice and fickle regard to international alignments. His modus operandi, in no particular order, involves lying, repetition, impulsiveness, bullying, disrespect, selfishness and unpredictability.

All of Trump’s style and tactics play out as one in his mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic. The American people, along with the rest of the world, watch in horror as the terrible statistics and impact of the infection unfold. The epitome of Trump’s leadership is captured in his statement on the level of coronavirus testing “No. I don’t take responsibility at all”, his provocative “LIBERATE…..” tweets encouraging abandonment of State’s lockdowns and his gratuitous advice to consider untested drugs, bright light and ingestion of bleach as worthy remedies for infection.

The rest of the world has had to accept that American greatness has wilted and America is no longer a role model. The American people will soon have to make a most important judgement. Will they accept “Trumpism” as the ongoing embodiment of “American exceptionalism”?

Dennis Richards is retired. He served in the Victorian Public Service for 35 years.


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7 Responses to DENNIS RICHARDS. Trumpism redefines American exceptionalism

  1. Avatar Dennis Richards says:

    Please understand that when I wrote my piece for P&I George Floyd was alive and well.

  2. Avatar Gavin O'Brien says:

    I have been to the States twice ( over 20 years ago).From what I am seeing today, this is not the America I thought I knew. Part of the problem is what is taught in history classes, as well as the perceptions you touched on in your essay. What I saw of Americans in Vietnam (1970) and when I passed through Angles City when Clark Field was an U.S. Base in the Philippines ( 1985) , will stay locked in my memory for ever. Where-ever they go, Americans take “America” with them. It is terribly corrupting for the local population and leads to social and moral degeneration. I worry that our Government’s continued subservience to American policy through our so called ‘Treaties” with them, will take this country where popular Australian public opinion would rather us not go. The follies of Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq should be a wake up call. Trump is an ever present threat to our welbeing as long as he is in the “White House’.

  3. Avatar Jim Kable says:

    It is surely beyond time that the US ambassador in Canberra is officially called in to the Head of Foreign Affairs and given due carpeting and taken to task over the appalling Trumpian mess now further unfolding in the US – not only re the Covid-19 horrors but the dreadful treatment of black citizens. It is certainly time to dismantle their rights to the spy bases/drone delivery-of-death facilities at Pine Gap and other places in Australia’s north-west – and to close the strangely-named rotational base for US Marines in Darwin. We can do without the contagion of the inhumanity they carry with them all around the world – the US military!

  4. Avatar Allan Kessing says:

    Whenever I have heard past warnings that the US might become isolationist my only thought has been “Yes, Please! ASAP”.
    There have been many ill governed countries and some have affected their neighbours but none has so bedevilled the world as the one which has attacked, bombed, strafed, destabilsed, sanctioned and propped up so many dictators as the Benighted States.
    Because. It. Can.

  5. Avatar Andrew Glikson says:

    In the 21st century. below the fragile veneer of the enlightenment, the abyss of medieval fundamentalism and barbarism is opening wider, where “might-is-right” dominates regardless of the huge dangers for the survival of humanity and of nature. Those familiar with the pre-WWII records of the Weimar Republic watch current developments with disbelief (“Fascism – a Warning”, by Madeleine Albright

  6. Avatar Jerry Roberts says:

    These are massive generalisations that miss the point of what is happening in America today. We are seeing revolution on the streets and not before time. Like all successful revolutions, this uprising will succeed when the police change sides and protect their own people instead of the country’s corrupt establishment.

    Chris Hedges in recent interviews with Jimmy Dore on You Tube makes the point that police are working class and it is their relatives who are being turfed on to the street by rapacious capitalism. Never bet against America. There is always hope in the USA, even within the political system, on both left and right.

    Republicans led by Marco Rubio are recognising the enemy in Wall Street and campaigners from the Bernie movement understand the need for a third party on the left and have the advantage of youth and energy against the clapped-out establishment of Clintons, Obama, Biden, Pelosi etc. Trump is incidental.

  7. Avatar William Collins says:

    When was the US ever a ‘role model’? What sort of role do you mean?

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