The idea represented by the term American Exceptionalism, first coined by Alexis de Tocqueville, views the United States of America as superior among nations almost as if god-given. The "Gods" were the "founding fathers," and the US form of democracy is viewed as not only the best, but unsurpassable. This station in the world of all nations justifies the actions of the United States, with Manifest Destiny being one of the more compelling historical proofs, in addition to the genocide of native americans, the Vietnam war and the Southern and Central American dirty wars of the 1970s and 1980s. Slavery was just "a mistake," as was the fact that my grandmother was nearly 20 years old before women gained the right to vote in this "exceptional" nation of ours.
GDAE Podcast #18 explores the implications of the American myth, including its effect on the liberal mindset, the US media and the prospect for our democracy. If "only the truth will set you free," then Americans need to grapple with the false mythology embodied by the notion of American Exceptionalism.