The election of President Obama in 2008 and the apparent decline of American power in the world has rekindled an old and important debate. Is the United States exceptional in its values and institutions, as well as in the role that it is destined to play in world affairs?
In this book, Stephen Brooks argues that American exceptionalism has been and continues to be real. In making this argument he focuses on five aspects of American politics and society that are most crucial to an understanding of American exceptionalism today. They include the appropriate relationship between the state and citizens, religion, socio-economic mobility, America’s role in the world, and ideas about the Constitution.
American exceptionalism matters in domestic politics chiefly as a political narrative around which support for and opposition to certain policies, values and vision of American society coalesce. But in world affairs it is not the story but the empirical reality of American exceptionalism that matters. Although the long era of America’s global economic dominance has entered what might be called a period of diminished expectations, the United States remains exceptional—the indispensable nation—in world affairs and is likely to remain so for many years to come.
"Stephen Brooks has written a thoughtful and provocative study that reminds us that we can ill afford to confuse debates over American declinism with lingering questions about American exceptionalism. His piercing insights about American exceptionalism during the age of Obama will resonate for years to come."
—Donald E. Abelson, The University of Western Ontario
"Mega kudos to Stephen Brooks for broaching such a touchy and controversial subject with admirable fairness, wonderful insight, and genuine erudition. Even experts in the field will learn a lot by reading this book."
—Andrei S. Markovits, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
1. Bush, Obama and the Reemergence of an Old Question 2. State and Society in America 3. Religion and American Society 4. America’s Role in the World 5. Constitutional Exceptionalism 6. The American Dream 7. Still Exceptional, But Does It Matter?