But We're American… The presence of American Exceptionalism in the Speeches of George W. Bush
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This paper defines American exceptionalism as the notion held by Americans that their country is unique and has a specific role to play in the world. The origins of this notion are traced to 17th century Puritan settlers, who used the metaphor of being "a city upon a hill" to highlight their position as a moral example to the rest of the world. This element from a sacral religion was transformed during the founding of the United States into an element of civil religion, and as such the metaphor and concept of American exceptionalism received a political connotation. The rise of America's political power coincided with a more active role in world politics, which was backed with a rhetoric emphasising unity and America's unique role. The clash between the passive and the more active reading of the exceptionalist metaphor and the struggles between sacral and civil religion coincide during the presidency of George W. Bush. The presence of these elements of political rhetoric is surveyed in a corpus of speeches by President Bush.
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