The Wide Importance of the Current Campaign

by Jay Nordlinger

Since the inauguration of Obama, there has been much talk about American exceptionalism: What is it? Is it important? Can it be kept? In a way, Janet Daley, the British writer, talks about American exceptionalism in her column today:

Whatever the outcome of the American presidential election, one thing is certain: the fighting of it will be the most significant political event of the decade. Last week’s Republican national convention sharpened what had been until then only a vague, inchoate theme: this campaign is going to consist of the debate that all Western democratic countries should be engaging in, but which only the United States has the nerve to undertake. The question that will demand an answer lies at the heart of the economic crisis from which the West seems unable to recover. It is so profoundly threatening to the governing consensus of Britain and Europe as to be virtually unutterable here, so we shall have to rely on the robustness of the US political class to make the running.

“. . . which only the United States has the nerve to undertake.” Well, that’s good: We’re not finished yet. Incidentally, Janet Daley is a fairly rare thing: an American who became British. (Usually the adoption goes the other way.) “To make the running” is not a phrase I’m familiar with. But its meaning is clear. It’s up to the U.S. to show the way out of this West-wide morass.

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