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American Exceptionalism Is a Dangerous Myth

July 16, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

Instead of disrespecting the achievements of other countries, the U.S. needs to learn from them.

Yesterday in Moscow, France’s national soccer team won the 2018 World Cup Final, defeating Croatia 4-2 and inspiring huge celebrations in the streets of Paris and other French cities. Soccer fans all over the world are singing “La Marseillaise,” eating croissants and saying, “Oui, vive la France!” Yet in the U.S., hating soccer is a tradition among far-right Republicans like Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter (who, during the 2014 World Cup, equated growing interest in soccer in the U.S. with “the nation’s moral decay”).

Their rabid disdain for the world’s #1 sport stems from an irrational belief in “American exceptionalism”; Beck, Coulter and other reactionaries cannot stand the thought of Europe or Latin America doing something much better than the U.S. Yet soccer is hardly the only area in which the U.S. is taking a back seat to other parts of the world. When it comes to health care, infrastructure, life expectancy, mass transit, green energy or the environment, one can hardly make a case for “American exceptionalism”—and instead of disrespecting the achievements of other countries, the U.S. needs to learn from them.

Heath care is an area in which the U.S. has been failing miserably compared to Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan and now, parts of Latin America. Universal health care has been achieved in a long list of countries, which have the higher life expectancy rates to show for it. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics, life expectancy in the U.S. is now 78.7 years. And that’s compared to 83 in Japan and Switzerland, 82 in France, Italy, Spain, Canada, Sweden and Australia or 81 in Norway, Portugal, Belgium, New Zealand, the U.K., Germany, Austria, Malta and the Netherlands. A few countries in Latin America have moved ahead of the U.S. in terms of life expectancy, including Chile with 80 years and Costa Rica with 79.

Americans are dying younger than the rest of the developed world, and health care is …read more


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