"American exceptionalism." It's a phrase Republicans love to throw around, especially on the campaign trail. Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney pepper their speeches with references to United States' unique national character. And Newt Gingrich even included it in the title of one of his books.
It turns out the candidates are just quoting a big ol' Communist…
Although a superiority complex has long pervaded the national psyche, the expression "American exceptionalism" only became big a few years ago…What's more, Tocqueville didn't invent the term. Who did? Joseph Stalin.
In the 1920s… America's radical left considered the national condition, contrasted it with Europe, and concluded leftism would be a hard sell stateside thanks to characteristics forged along the frontier. Americans were different: individualistic, profit-crazed, broadly middle class, and as tolerant of inequality as they were reverent of economic freedom…
In 1929, Communist leader Jay Lovestone informed Stalin in Moscow that the American proletariat wasn't interested in revolution. Stalin responded by demanding that he end this "heresy of American exceptionalism." And just like that, this expression was born.
The GOP might have to dial back their rhetoric a bit. It's hard to call the President a lefty radical who wants to spread the wealth around when you're the one quoting the world's most famous communist dictator.
Then again, maybe voters won't notice. If Rick Santorum gets his wish and young people stop going to college, no one will even know who Stalin is. Or what big words like "exceptionalism" and "hypocrisy" mean.
Tags: Communism, History, Republicans, Russia, Socialism