The latest ideological buzzword is “exceptional,” as in, “America is exceptional.” Republicans Mitt Romney, Mike Pence, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and Newt Gingrich are accusing Democrats–and President Obama in particular–of not believing in “American exceptionalism.” See this rather biased article for an overview of the phenomenon: Conservatives’ new focus: America, the exceptional.
What does it mean to say that America is exceptional? Does it mean, as the article says, that America is the best of all countries, or does it really mean something different? What IS exceptional about America, and what is not?
Isn’t it true that conservatives tend to be more positively patriotic, while liberals tend to be patriotic in the sense that “it’s patriotic to criticize what is wrong”? Why is that?
And what does all of this mean from a Christian point of view? At what point does patriotism turn into pride and idolatry?