Archived Story

How did America become an exceptional nation?

Published 9:15am Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My Point of View by Jerrold Dettle

During the 19th century, America became known worldwide as the most exceptional in history. An ambitious people assisted by the most advanced educational system developed industrial might never before attained.

Jerrold Dettle
Jerrold Dettle

Thomas Edison, Levi Whitney, Robert Fulton, Alexander Graham Bell and many others produced incredible scientific advances at a phenomenal rate. Population and industrial might grew simultaneously to provide a better standard of living for all who were seeking human justice and individual liberty.

The beginning of the 20th century brought Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet, the Wright Brothers’ flying machine and Henry Ford’s modern production of an affordable automobile. 1917 brought the benevolent landing in Europe of brave and hard-fighting Americans, which changed the momentum of the war culminating in a so-called “World Victory” for peace.

The early 1920s produced a capitalistic growth that improved man’s well-being at a previously unattainable rate.  The demoralizing Great Depression of the 1930s gave the world a panoramic view of the resilience, determination and desire to survive during severe economic adversity. The conditions were very harsh, but Americans faced with an unsure future maintained civility.

The eruption of World War II gave the opportunity for Americans to showcase another series of scientific advances never before witnessed. In 1967, America placed a man on the moon, a feat that humans could only fictionalize for thousands of years. During this period, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. provided a new guideline for human relations surpassing most others since the life of Christ.

Exceptionalism existed in American medical science and hospital care advanced at an extraordinary rate during this era. Research by Dr. Jonas Salk and many others advanced vaccinations, atoms for peace, space exploration, new forms of energy, heart transplants, prosthetic bones, access to American computer technology and much, much more to advance the standard of living for literally billions of people.

The American educational system had led the world for at least 150 years. Unfortunately, at the same time, big government and its elitist controls grew rapidly and began to stymie and smother individual freedoms. How true this warning was from Thomas Jefferson over 200 years ago, “My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.”

Currently, more than half of the world’s nations rank higher than we do in education. Vietnam exceeds America. The Slovak Republic equals the U.S.A. and spends less than half as much on education per student.

Here in Minnesota the decline in exceptionalism is accelerating more rapidly than most states. Economists Arthur B. Laffer, Stephen Moore and Jonathan Williams have written the 2014 edition of “Rich States, Poor States,” based on 15 policy areas that have proven over time to be the best determinants of economic success.

Minnesota is ranked 46th (fourth from the bottom) in expectation of economic growth.  That positioning of exceptionalism bodes ever more serious when America as a whole shows frightening signs of decline in exceptionalsim.

The most economically prosperous area of the nation is now being unbelievably dismembered by the elimination of a national border with neighboring Mexico. The onslaught of millions of illiterate and non-English speaking men, women and orphans has stressed local hospitals, schools and public institutions into near extinction.  Add to this unsustainable burden the inclusion of members of the most-feared criminal cartels in the world and a sizeable portion of critically ill and seriously diseased people.

Unsustainable governmental debt has mortgaged everyone’s future. Nearly $18 trillion in current debt, and over $100 trillion in estimated unfunded debt by one nation has far exceeded total world wealth and assets.  Add in increasing moral decay, sloth and envy to the equation and the pending calamity lies somewhere on the horizon of the inevitable sunset.

The answer to rediscovering American exceptionalism may reside in a new emphasis of this description of the past, “America, the Land of Liberty and Home of the Brave!”


Jerrold Dettle is a member of the Freeborn County Republican Party.