Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint is pushing back against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s contention that American exceptionalism is “extremely dangerous.”
On Wednesday, The New York Times ran a Putin op-ed in which the Russian president argued against the idea of American exceptionalism.
“I carefully studied [President Barack Obama's] address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is ‘what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional,’” Putin wrote.
“It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal,” he concluded.
DeMint shot back that while all people are created equal, all countries are not.
In a letter to Putin dispatched Friday, DeMint offered the Russian president an explanation of American exceptionalism, thanking him for “shining an international spotlight” on the issue, and highlighting why Russia does not meet such criteria.
“America is an exceptional nation—that is, one like no other, not just now but in history—because it is dedicated to the universal principle of human liberty,” DeMint wrote. “This is grounded in the truth that all men—not just Americans—are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights by their Creator. As a British admirer of America, G.K. Chesterton, once put it: ‘America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed.’ We are, in other words, not a nation based on ethnicity, but on beliefs, and not coincidentally, that is why we attract people of all ethnicities and they become proud Americans.”
DeMint recalled America’s participation in World War II and the Cold War, going on to explain that America remains committed to the “principle of equality under the law in our Constitution and remain dedicated to it.”
“We understand, however, that in Russia today, the rule of law is easily ignored and that you’ve managed to remain in complete power since 2000, even though your country’s original constitution supposedly limited you to two consecutive terms,” DeMint continued. “You may want to devote your attention to such topics in future writings.”
DeMint added that he is including a booklet from the Heritage Foundation about the American exceptionalism to “further the conversation.”