Magazine article In These Times

The Unexceptional Donald Trump

Magazine article In These Times

The Unexceptional Donald Trump

Article excerpt

In Exceptional America: What Divides Americans From the World and from Each Other, Mugambi Jouet, a law professor at Stanford, explores how "longstanding features of American exceptionalism" can "manifest themselves in inspiring, contradictory and destructive ways"-most recently with the election of Donald Trump.

The Founding Fathers were learned men of the Enlightenment who deemed that government requires educated citizens. But the emergence of modern democracy in America fostered a populist attitude perceiving education as little more than a sign of elitism.... In the words of Isaac Asimov, "a cult of ignorance" in America has promoted "the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.' " Numerous politicians have shared or exploited this attitude by peddling outlandish propaganda and conspiracy theories, an increasingly easy feat with the explosion of mass media. …

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