Here is an updated version of a Labor Day essay posted several years ago.
There has been a lot of talk about “American Exceptionalism” recently. The left side of the political spectrum generally disdains the concept, while the right wishes to affirm it. The concept has many contours that we can debate, but one thing is clear, whether or not the United States of America is exceptional, it is clearly contrary. The evidence?
- Nearly every country in the world uses the metric system for measurement; the U.S. remains committed to the “English” system, which even the English no longer use, at least officially.
- The standard electrical delivery system throughout the world is 220 or 240 volt/50 cycle alternating current; the U.S. uses 120 volt/ 60 cycles (as do our immediate neighbors in North America).
- Most nations generally ban or heavily restrict private possession of firearms. The U.S. constitutionally protects the right of private persons to keep and bear arms, with minimum restrictions. District of Columbia, v. Heller 554 U.S. 570 (2008); McDonald v. City of Chicago, 561 U.S. 742 (2010).
- Almost every country somehow restricts freedom of speech and expression, including the so-called hate speech. The United States constitutionally forbids all manner of prior restraint of expression, other than incitement to imminent lawless action. Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 1969).
- The rest of the world uses the color red to symbolize the political left and the color blue for the political right. The U.S. reverses this scheme of color-coding.
- And, apropos to this weekend, most other countries mark their day for commemoration of labor and workers on “mayday,” May 1. The U.S. marks the first Monday in September as Labor Day.
Being a natural born contrarian, and libertarian, I applaud America’s exceptionalism here, now, and in the future.
Happy Labor Day