The other day I was browsing the headlines on my homepage when my attention was caught by a stunning pronouncement; “Ronald Reagan Restored Faith in America“. The singular fact of an opinion piece given a banner headline is, regardless of the ideological leanings, a major point in the decline of American democracy. But beyond the media commentary, the piece intrigued me. The writer of the column, Ed Rollins, is one of the few political operators still in the game who worked for our 40th President. And while I have no major issues with someone writing from a position of love and loyalty, the tenor of the column, and the tone of today’s political debate, raise some interesting questions.
The notions of American pride, faith in the nation, and American exceptionalism are common themes in today’s often vapid political conversation. Why, after all, talk about substantive policy points when you can hammer away with sexy and easy to digest soundbites? But this issue has some compelling and relevant points worth considering that depart from the quantitative discussions I normally embrace. What does it mean, for example, to believe in American exceptionalism? What does it say about a nation, or a subset within the citizenry of a nation, that “faith” needed to be restored? How far from the reality of President Ronald Reagan does the mythology of Saint Ronnie the Gipper reside?