American Deceptionalism

Americans are drawn to the latest spectacle surrounding Jonathan Gruber -- an MIT professor -- paid almost six million dollars to assist in deceiving the public with regard to the Affordable Care Act.  Gruber recently treated the public to another dose of contrived contrition before a televised Congressional committee.  Gruber is one of many foot soldiers in a larger war against truth waged in the American public sphere.  American Deceptionalism is a profoundly important phenomenon that describes and informs the most important aspects of our current cultural malaise.  We are besieged by an intellectual elite intensely committed to a grand design of American Deceptionalism.  Confronting and defeating this social phenomenon is our surest path forward for the nation. 

What are the characteristic beliefs of American Deceptionalism?

  1. America is not exceptional.  For our epistemic elite composed of Hollywood storytellers, jaded journalists, professional activists, and reactionary academics it is a cardinal rule that America is exceptional in only one respect:  guilt.  America is exceptionally guilty of any moral violation that the mind can conjure up -- whether selfishness, bigotry, hatred, imperialism, greed, murder, genocide, sexism, and on it goes -- no nation has committed greater sins than this one.  Because this is an elite assumption, the generally patriotic public must be ‘taught’ the truth about their ugly nation.  Upon such a premise, this elite sees no shame in deception or distortion.  Gruber demurred that he was at an academic conference when he got too free with his language.  This is not at all surprising because academic conferences in America are often dominated by themes of patronizing ridicule for the general public.  Academic experts gather to trade cynical observations about flyover country and prizes are awarded for those who mock it best.  What happened to Gruber at an academic conference was far from an accident -- it was one of many incredible concerts of thought he attends dedicated to mocking us all.  And in many cases, we paid the bills for those concerts to be played out. 
  2. The general American public is incredibly stupid and ignorant.  More than any ethnic group or global population, Americans are profoundly incapable of basic consciousness.  Our disregard for science, the arts, environmentalism, progressive political causes, public education, the Democratic Party, European superiority, and the moral superiority of the indigenous tribes are all characteristics that make the average American a painful study in ignorance that Maher, Stewart, Krugman, Crowley, Frank, and Friedman can barely tolerate.  The stupidity of Americans necessitates and justifies all kinds of rhetorical manipulations aimed at raising them up out of their failure to follow the example set by the higher beings inhabiting the East and West Coast and select urban centers.  The deception spoken of by Gruber was not unusual and is in fact normative for American elite.  There is consequentially a voracious paternalism among the armies of Grubers that care for the American public through elite institutions. 
  3. Christianity, Judaism and religiosity contribute to the stubborn bad character traits of Americans.  If Americans would stop clinging to religion, the nation could progress and lean forward.  Because this is so evidently true, elite jurists have turned the First Amendment religion clauses inside out.  Formerly read as an insurance for religious liberty, it is now obvious to our elite that public expressions of religion are illegal with one important stipulation:  if the religious expression offends a preponderance of a community then the expression is to be encouraged.  Satanists should be able to set up public memorials in Oklahoma -- not because it does not violate a supposed notion of ‘separation of church and state’ -- but because it so upsets Christians and other American religious conventions.  For the American deceptionalist, life has a civic container of secular privilege.  All Americans should someday be able to live in a world without public references to religion.  Religion offends people and it holds people back from their true potential.  A breed of secular Pharisees takes us on a new shining path.  This is why people need to stop interpreting the religion clauses as protecting religion.  Religious people need to ‘coexist’ and cooperate with the secular Pharisees provided to them by American deceptionalists. 
  4. American deceptionalism is a bipartisan movement.  The elite of the Republican and Democratic Parties have a shared contempt for the general public.  The populist impulses of Americans have continually been misguided and they are particularly in error with regard to gay marriage, illegal immigration, environmentalism, abortion and government spending.  In a recent Mississippi Senate race Republican incumbent and deceptional elitist Thad Cochran made a point of passing out flyers denouncing his Republican opponent as a racist.  Whether Cochran really believed those charges and the practices that returned him to the Senate are pragmatically irrelevant to the elite -- because they worked.  Ethics are a vulgar notion held among populists.  They have no place in deceptionalist governance. 

American deceptionalism is the true root of our national difficulties. Despite its intensity and broad social practice, deceptionalism can be and is being defeated as it has been defeated in the past.  Americans do well not to embrace the central political praxis of American deceptionalism:  the politics of personal destruction.  Personal attacks are not the coincidental center of American deceptionalism.  Because American deceptionalists abhor individual rights, they attack individuals to isolate them and force broader adherence to group identity politics and politically correct thinking designed by the elite.  They seek to manipulate, control and limit notions of individual heroism.  The individual is inherently construed as a threat to social order.  Americans can and should challenge argumentatively, the assumptions noted above -- whether in classrooms, national cathedrals, boardrooms, council meetings, or rallies.  Aspects of an American renaissance are already in the making, but the convictions of American deceptionalists are stubborn and persistent.  They will require heroic resistance to fully defeat and return the nation to an appreciation of individual liberty. 

Ben Voth is an associate professor and director of debate and speech at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.  He is an adviser for the Bush Institute and a Dedman Africa Studies scholar.  He recently published an academic book related to this essay entitled:  The Rhetoric of Genocide:  Death as a Text.