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Brookings: Reviving American Leadership: The Next President Should Continue on the Path Obama Has Set

Authors: Bruce Jones, Thomas Wright, and Jane Esberg
May 25, 2012


In this policy brief from the Brookings Institute, Bruce Jones, Thomas Wright, and Jane Esberg propose ideas for the next president on America's role in the world.

In April 2009 President Barack Obama announced: "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that Brits believe in British exceptionalism, and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism. . . . I see no contradiction between believing that America has a continued extraordinary role in leading the world towards peace and prosperity and recognizing that that leadership is incumbent, depends on, our ability to create partnerships." Though Obama meant it as an endorsement of burden sharing, Republican candidates in 2012 have latched on to this comment, arguing loudly and often that not only is America special, but that conservatives believe this more than the president does.

In the eyes of former Republican candidate Rick Perry, "the exceptionalism of America . . . makes it the last best hope for mankind." For Ron Paul, this "exceptional country" sets the example that "others will emulate." Likewise, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, and Jon Huntsman have all remarked that America is an "exceptional nation." Mitt Romney put it most cuttingly when he said that Obama "went around the world and apologized for America."

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