America used to have this vague sense of fair play, religious tolerance, transparency, which went along with a good work ethic and quiet honesty. Remember? All that shit’s out the window now.
But there was a time where the USA was really something exceptional. The facts are staggering. We created a constitution that basically changed what it meant to be a country on earth, and thereby what it meant to be a human being on earth. We invented 90% of everything. We at crucial times exhibited real moral leadership where there had been none. Before there was exceptionalism, we must remember, there was simply the fact that we were exceptional.
America’s view of itself as exceptionalist among nations is a recent phenomenon. It only became such an important thing to emphasize, to reify, because its reality was morphing into a simulacrum. When we were truly exceptional, we actually would never have insisted on being exceptionalist. But the need for exceptionalism does indeed come from having been exceptional. We used to have a more level playing field than other places around the world, and that, along with our abundant natural resources and people, was why so many people wanted to come here. As being exceptional waned, we emphasized more and more our exceptionalism, which only served to finish off those modest qualities that were part of our being exceptional.
Then, when even the exceptionalism started to go shaky, we hired a guy who viewed himself with the same exceptionalism we wanted to reinvigorate America with, and said: “Hey, you know how to act like you’re special. Do it for America.” So Trump is the guy with the gold plated toilet seat that reminds us how important we used to be. To a country full of people harkening back to a pretend time when we were special, he shows us how to act like you’re special. Projecting into his entitlement placates our losing our grip.