Monday, December 20, 2010

Michael Prell: Sarah Palin and Fishing for American Exceptionalism

"Sarah Palin's Alaska" offers a more optimistic view of what it means to be #1
At American Thinker, author Michael Prell opines that watching "Sarah Palin's Alaska" is like going back in time -- no, not to a time when Americans were hunters and gatherers, but to a time when competition and a desire to excel was encouraged and celebrated rather than discouraged and scorned:
There was a time in America when young people were taught that being #1 was a good thing, and that anyone could grow up to be president, which is the #1 position of power in the world. Now America is led by a president who bows down to the world and apologizes for America's power, while criticizing powerful and successful Americans at home, scorning them as "fat cats," and saying that "at a certain point, you've made enough money."

Contrast President Obama's attitude about success to that of his biggest challenger, Sarah Palin, who said in TLC's "Alaska" that "[i]t's very important to remember that the more successful fisherman is going to be the harder-working fisherman. The harder you work, the more money you're going to make, the more fish you're going to be able to pick. That, again, is a life lesson that so many should, and could, be learning."

The desire to succeed and be #1 is deeply ingrained in the American character. Some even call it the "American spirit" or "American exceptionalism." But American exceptionalism is under attack by a new and potent belief system that assigns virtue and scorn along an "axis of power," between the power-haves and power have-nots. Those who have less power can do no wrong -- even when they do wrong -- and those who have more power (the rich, the successful, the United States) can do no right -- even when they do right.

I gave this belief system a name -- Underdogma, the reflexive belief that those who have less power are good because they have less power, and that those who have more power are bad because they have more power.

This anti-exceptional belief system permeates our culture through movies, television shows, the news, and even now through the words and deeds of the president of the United States. The underdog is reflexively cast as the good guy (even when he is not), and those who have achieved success and wealth and power are cast as villains, criminals, or even enemies of the state to be singled out for scorn by the president.

- JP

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