Thursday, October 23, 2014
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President Gets It Wrong?

I think President Obama got it wrong when he defined American exceptionalism as “our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

President Gets It Wrong?

President Barack Obama speaks at his ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama speaks at his ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

I think President Obama got it wrong when he defined American exceptionalism as “our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Almost all democracies believe in the same principles, so that doesn’t make us exceptional (although we were the first to proclaim them in just this way).

I think Obama was closer to the mark in the middle of his speech, when he said this: “We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American….”

To me – that’s it! Freedom is a “given” (too-often taken for granted) but what makes America exceptional is the twin streams of equality and opportunity.

Yes, we have rich and poor, but there are no remnants of a rigid class order or caste system condemning you to remain on the rung of the ladder on which you were born.

To me, that’s American exceptionalism – just like a Chevy Corvette convertible flying over an Interstate with the Black Eyed Peas blasting on the stereo.

Stu Bykofsky Daily News Columnist
About this blog
Stu Bykofsky has been a columnist with the Philadelphia Daily News since 1987. Prior to the column, his assignments included theater critic, TV critic, copy editor, general assignment features reporter. He supports civil-rights and animal causes, he opposes political correctness, bicycles on the sidewalk and most other forms of selfishness and stupidity.
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Reach Stu at stubyko@phillynews.com.

Stu Bykofsky Daily News Columnist
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