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Nick Adams and American Exceptionalism?

Nick Adams is getting some attention in the United States talking up America's greatness and exceptionalism. Adams has made a career of political commentary, and in the US many are moved by what is being described as his motivational speeches. Their delight with Adams indicates a political perspective and frame of mind I would guess – a wild guess – of something like twenty-five percent of the voting public. This is a little under the thirty percent that a Pew Research survey indicated three weeks ago of people who look with favor upon "the tea party."

Nick Adams is from Australia. He came to the US, he says, because we need someone with a perspective from outside the country looking in to remind us how great we are. He starts with a point useful to any speaker wanting to move a citizenry: the country is in danger. The country, he says, is in decline and something has to be done about it. "If America abandons its Biblical roots," he says, "it will lose all the attending benefits of Christian civilization, such as law, absolute moral standards, a sound economy, a limited government and any vestige of liberty it still maintains." The United States is the greatest of countries but is not living up to its potential. Why is it the greatest of countries? Because "America is an instrument of God." America, he says, exists to serve "a providential purpose." Although America is in decline, God has blessed America. America is the last bastion of hope for man, and it's time for us to ring the bell of liberty. "In these dark hours," he says, "America is the envy of the world." America is the greatest good in the world. What is good for America is good for the world. A strong America is a strong world. His audiences applaud, cheer and sometimes rise to their feet, and on video they can be heard chanting "USA, USA, USA, USA, USA."

Adams blames America's decline on those who prefer secularism over faith, government rather than God, relativity rather than patriotism, those who want America to be "another moribund European state," those who benefit from a weak America, and those in academia and the media who are corrupting people with their rubbish.

"I offer truth," proclaims Adams. He identifies himself and his audience as of the common people. In calling for the US to return to its potential and to express its exceptionalism, he is telling those who like his speeches that it is they who are the exceptional ones and the hope of the world. Do those cheering Adams when he trashes the products of our higher educational institutions say anything about their lack of accomplishment in learning or their ability to guide the US back to its full potential?

The US has been in a position to do good in the world. It has been blessed by circumstance, including an intellectual heritage from Britain, but does this mean that "common" tea party Americans who appreciate Adams's speeches are brighter, more learned or inherently more virtuous than the average person of these countries?

Adams identifies himself with the "common people," but Adams is not appealing to modesty. There is no modesty in the notion that the people of other societies should look with hope and guidance to we Americans – or that those cheering his speeches are the ones who will make the US worthy of such adulation. Why should people in Uruguay, Costa Rica, Denmark, Finland, Germany or elsewhere look to the US as a guide? Are the people of these nations children in need parenting any more than some in the US? These are people who live in their own democracy. Why should they not be looking to themselves, their own history and experiences and responsibilities as their guide? If God has chosen Americans for exceptionalism should people of other nations – including Australia – recognize their inferiority in the eyes of God?

I am writing this without having heard Adams include in his view of America's full potential any reference to figures comparing the US to other nations regarding education, life expectancy or infant mortality – areas of achievement by some nations apparently done without guidance from the US.

One thing we can achieve without delay is to approach the people of other nations while we maintain respect for their experiences and intelligence, and while we seek cooperation rather than command.

Nick Adams videos: "When Nick speaks, people listen."   http://www.nickadamsinamerica.com/videos.html

Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.