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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

American Exceptionalism

American+Exceptionalism

The truth behind the free world

As Americans, we often hear the notion that we are “the greatest country in the world.” It is a broad statement, but one that most Americans would agree with, myself included. 

When you ask Americans what makes their country the best in the world, you often hear answers such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion or any of the provisions within the Bill of Rights. In response to this, to quote the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, “if you think that a Bill of Rights is what sets us apart, you’re crazy.” 

It is not the simple rights and privileges that we grant our citizens that make us the leaders of the free world. Rather, it is the masterful structure of our government established in the Federalist Papers and the Constitution, and far too many American citizens fail to realize this. 

Every modern nation that is considered a part of the global north has freedom. Some even have a Bill of Rights that could be considered superior to ours. However, they do not have the perfectly weighted checks and balances that exist in our government. 

We as Americans take for granted the significance of having an independent judiciary or a legislative branch that is not beholden to the executive branch. These fundamental structures of our government prevent radical change that could lead to tyranny or the degradation of our morality as a nation. 

Although Americans often get frustrated with the gridlock of Congress and the fact that sometimes it feels like nothing gets done in politics, I would argue that it is not only good for the nation, but it is what the framers of the Constitution intended. 

The founding fathers intentionally made legislation difficult to pass so only great legislation would become law.  A piece of legislation that significantly impairs the rights or opportunities of a marginalized group theoretically should never get through Congress; representatives within the body would call out the fact that such a piece of legislation would hurt their constituents and thus block the movement. This type of balance stops radicalism and unjust laws from governing our nation. This is what truly sets us apart.

Far too often, the people of the U.S. forget what unites us. We are all Americans, and in our society, we are protected from tyranny unlike any other country in the world. We can go to bed at night knowing that one person cannot tear down our institutions and autocratic rule will never come to fruition. It is not the size of our military or the size of our economy that makes us great. Although they can be seen as formidable aspects of our country, they do not define us. As a people, we should not want them to define us. 

Instead, we should embrace the institutions of liberalism and cooperation, and a power-balanced government that grants us the opportunity to lead the free world. When there is a crisis in the world, people look to America to lead the way. That may be a massive responsibility, but it is placed on our shoulders because the whole world knows the importance and strength of our institutions, and we should be grateful for them.

Our institutions aren’t perfect. No government ever will be. But our founding fathers laid out the framework for the best government that has ever existed. It is the responsibility of the people to constantly improve our government, or create a more perfect union, without undermining the fundamental principles within it. 

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