Exceptional Reflections

Is America exceptional?

Last week’s spectacle of Russia’s President writing an op-ed in the New York Times chiding Americans was surreal. Especially when he all but quoted the Declaration of Independence to admonish us for considering America as exceptional. What’s going on?

Apart from the irony of seeing our former Cold War antagonist lecture Americans on American values, does he have a point? Is it truly dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional? I would submit that it depends on what the exception is. If a people see themselves as especially chosen to bring civilization or prosperity or purity or character to a benighted world, that can be dangerous. That view arguably led to all kinds of abuses during the Age of Empires—and even World War I and the Russian Revolution.

But if the exceptionalism is one of origins, of coming together rather than going out, of ideals rather than ideology, that’s different. And it can be measured. Just look at the number of people who want to move here: almost 140 million, by one estimate—over three times the next most popular destination, England. (And 25 times the number who would rather move to Russia.)

That’s an exceptionalism that seeks to be a light, not a burden—that has a decent respect for all peoples. One based on choice and trust.

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA

Chief Investment Officer

By | 2013-09-17T09:59:54+00:00 September 17th, 2013|Global Market Update|0 Comments

About the Author:

Mr. Tengdin is the Chief Investment Officer at Charter Trust Company and author of “The Global Market Update”. The audio version of each post can be heard on radio stations throughout New England every weekday. Mr. Tengdin graduated from Dartmouth College, Magna Cum Laude. He received his Master of Arts from Trinity Divinity School, Magna Cum Laude and received his Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation in 1992. Mr. Tengdin has been managing investment portfolios for over 30 years, working for Bank of Boston, State Street Global Advisors, Citibank – Tunisia, and Banknorth Group. Throughout his career, Mr. Tengdin has emphasized helping clients manage their financial risks in difficult environments where they can profit from investing in diverse assets in diverse settings. –
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