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American Exceptionalism

American Enterprise Institute, Short Publications: American Exceptionalism by James Q. Wilson

America differs from other democratic nations in many ways, some material and some mental. It has a more rapidly growing economy than most of Europe and a deeper sense of patriotism than almost any other country with popular rule. A recent survey of 91,000 people in fifty nations, conducted by the Pew Research Center and reported on by Andrew Kohut and Bruce Stokes, outlines our political culture and shows how different it is from that in most other democracies. Americans identify more strongly with their own country than do people in many affluent democracies. While 71 percent of Americans say they are "very proud" to be in America, only 38 percent of the French and 21 percent of the Germans and the Japanese say they are proud to live in their countries. Americans are also much more committed to individualism than are people elsewhere. Only one-third of Americans--but two-thirds of Germans and Italians--think that success in life is determined by forces outside their own control. This message is one that Americans wish to transmit to their children: 60 percent of Americans say that children should be taught the value of hard work, but only one-third of the British and Italians and one-fifth of the Germans agree. Over half of all Americans think that economic competition is good because it stimulates people to work hard and develop new ideas; only one-third of French and Spanish people agree. Americans would like their views to spread throughout the world: over three-fourths said this was a good idea, compared to only one-fourth of the people in France, Germany, and Italy, and one-third in Great Britain. Read the entire essay...

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