Is a subject that fascinates me.
In political debates I’ve always ascribed Evangelical views of America as the “New Zion” to a warped, if exclusive, interpretation of exceptionalism. (America as promised land; favored by God, etc.) In any case, I’ve always thought of it as a philosophy with religious — or, at least, quasi-religious — overtones.
Enter Scott McLemee at Inside Higher Education and my position is found to be lacking. (I really hate when that happens…)
In The Global Exception, McLamee touches on the right-wing religious brand of American Exceptionalism, but he also writes of the liberal, or left-wing, component:
The other form of American exceptionalism has a more left-wing genealogy. It emerged from debates over the peculiarities of the United States compared to other highly industrialized nation-states — especially the lack of a labor party or a mass-based socialist movement of the kind that became standard elsewhere in the world.
In either version, the United States stands as a nation apart — somehow the product of forces cutting it off from the rest of the world’s history.
That last sentence is played out daily in Mr. Bush’s foreign policy. Have a look at the article, it’s a very good read.