Exceptionalism and the American Dream

As many other posters before me have noted, American Exceptionalism is the idea that Americans are superior to other nations overall. This idea is one of the core principles behind a similar concept in the American Dream. It postulates that anyone can come to America and become successful,

My text for this post is a song by the band Switchfoot titled “American Dream”. In brief the lyrics of the song criticize the typical view of the American Dream, suggesting that Americans’ priorities are out of order. Of particular note is how the song focuses on the American Dream for members of the corporate “machine”, which puts the focus on American Exceptionalism nearly as much, albeit on a more individual scale.

With references to luxury cars and the phrase “red, white, blue, and green” representing the colors of the american flag plus money, the idea that America is better than everyone else leads to the idea that if I am an American, I will make more money and can afford more material things. This is best exemplified in the line “When success is equated with excess”, which suggests that one can only be successful when they have more than the people around them, or in other words, are exceptional.


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