Title

Make no exception, save one: American exceptionalism, the American presidency, and the age of Obama

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Communication Monographs

Volume

83

Issue

4

Publisher

Taylor & Francis

Publication Date

5-16-2016

First Page

505

Last Page

520

DOI

10.1080/03637751.2016.1182638

Abstract

This paper explores the circumstances under which U.S. presidents have invoked American exceptionalism in major speeches and how this concept has culminated in the Obama presidency. We find that U.S. presidents have increased their invocations of American exceptionalism since the Second World War and that they have relied heavily on this concept in times of national crises. Moreover, we demonstrate the overwhelming propensity of President Obama, relative to his predecessors, to emphasize American exceptionalism. We argue that this is due to the double-crisis nature of his presidency – two major wars and a recession – in addition to the racial bind that he has endured throughout his presidency. We reflect on the implications for other minority politicians and the broader American public.

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