So, recently I went riding around North Cascades. To the west of this wilderness is a set of towns hemming the US-Canada border. You can actually ride straight up to the boundary, and there were these twin roads separated by international lines. Speed limits posted in miles/hr on one side and km/hr on the other. But unlike the great wall of southern border, this was just more like a neighborhood fence. There were also strikingly similar ranches and farms on both the sides. But, of course, properties in the US had quite a few Trump/Biden signs. Thanks to the ongoing reality show.
Without being derisive we can all agree it’s sort of reality show right now. But this drama is not uniquely American, it’s quite common in all democracies. Electoral processes tend to exploit all our lower level instincts, and it’s only human to fall for it. Framers knew about this aspect to the masses, so they rightly engineered some institutional checks. In that sense, from cultural or Constitutional perspective, moving beyond baser instincts is something which makes Americans unique. That’s something which separates Americans, and in general the English tradition, from the rest.
So, minding your own business might be more American than political activism. Wearing no signs is probably more American than Black/Blue lives matter badge. Waving/burning flag probably makes you less of an American compared to not caring about the flag itself. Same is the case with worshiping political idols, celebrating defense, law enforcement etc. All these things are common across the world, nothing uniquely American about it. In short, American exceptionalism is about avoiding these very trappings. It’s about employing slightly higher levels of cognition, sensibility etc. It’s about focusing on underlying truth and not getting distracted by symbols or personalities. It’s about seeing subtle complexities, about realizing actions, even with good intentions, can have negative consequences. Eventually it’s a lot about being decent, responsible individuals. Seems like, being a real American is not that difficult, but that humility is still quite uncommon.