This chapter highlights another habit of thought that compromises one's ability to think clearly about strategies for governing in the United States: the doctrine of exceptionalism—the idea that there is something unique about governance in the American context. This mistaken belief makes it harder to learn from the experience of other states. There is a temptation to suggest that the United States is exceptional only because of the emphasis that Americans put on their own exceptionality. But even this is not true. People in most countries see something special about their own circumstances. Indeed, the feeling of exceptionality is shared almost universally, and rightly so. Conditions facing leaders in any one state are different from those facing any other state. Governance strategies must fit those conditions, and consequently one should expect policies and institutions to vary as well. This is why one should be wary about “one size fits all” prescriptions for governmental reform. Still, one should not get too carried away with this emphasis on variation. Even if circumstances change, there is one important commonality: leaders in all states, at all points in time, deal with the realities of building and maintaining a state.
Cornell Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.
To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.