Monday, November 29, 2010

Plymouth Plantation: The First Thanksgiving

by Michael Kaplan

The First Thanksgiving. An idealized portrayal by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris, 1912-15.

This is Edward Winslow’s firsthand account of the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Plantation in 1621. It is one of only two primary sources that describe a scene that has become one of the mythic touchstones of American history. The Pilgrims, a small band of sturdy, self-reliant, God-fearing people, crossed the Atlantic on a leaky ship, the Mayflower, endured much hardship to settle a wilderness where they could govern themselves freely and worship as they chose. This inspired the ideal image that Americans have of themselves: heroic pioneers who risk all for the sake of liberty.

Here is the other primary account, from Governor William Bradford’s history of the colony, Of Plymouth Plantation:

They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was a great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to the proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports.
What Winslow and Bradford described was a traditional English harvest festival, a secular celebration of medieval origins, devoted to eating, drinking, and making merry. But this first Thanksgiving was also a Puritan rite of spiritual devotion. Contrary to the popular image, the Puritans were not sour and morose people; they knew how to have fun. But the demands of heaven took precedence over those of earth. We don’t know the exact date it was held; a nineteenth-century historian estimated that it was probably between September 23 and November 11 and most likely in October, soon after the Pilgrims had harvested their first crop of corn, squash, beans, barley, and peas. It was only after the crisis of King Philip’s War in 1676 that Thanksgiving became an annual event in New England, held on a Thursday in November or December. This was a more solemn occasion of fasting, feasting, and sermonizing, reminding the colonists that New England was founded as a holy experiment. It was not until 1863, at the height of the Civil War, that Abraham Lincoln established the last Thursday in November as the national Thanksgiving holiday that we celebrate today.

Edward Winslow in 1651.

The real importance of the harvest festival in 1621 was the cementing of an alliance between the vulnerable settlers of Plymouth and the Pokanoket tribe (a branch of Wampanoag nation) of Chief Massasoit. The Pilgrims would not have survived without the generosity of the Native American Indians. Much of Winslow’s and Bradford’s chronicles of the colony’s first year are devoted to the complex diplomatic dance that brought this alliance into being.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation: Divine Providence and American Exceptionalism

by Michael Kaplan

On October 7, 1789, President George Washington issued this proclamation establishing November 26 as a holiday to acknowledge God’s providential role in the creation of the United States, the establishment of the Constitution, and the preservation of liberty.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th. day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
This is how it appeared in The Massachusetts Centinel, on October 14, 1789:

And here is an image of the original document in Washington’s own hand from The Library of Congress:

And here is a modern reading on YouTube:

The federal government had been operating a mere seven months when Washington issued this proclamation. There were no guarantees that the American experiment in liberty and self-government would succeed. Indeed the new government would soon be embroiled in rancorous political and ideological conflict over Alexander Hamilton’s program for economic modernization and the consolidation of federal power, which would lead to the creation of the first political parties. This would be followed by the wars of the French Revolution and Napoleon, twenty-two years of war-to-the-death between Britain and France, which the new United States would barely survive intact. Andrew Jackson’s decisive victory over the British at New Orleans in January 1815, which guaranteed America’s survival and prospects for future greatness, has obscured just how perilous the preceeding years had been. Remember, only four months before Old Hickory’s triumph, the British had captured Washington, DC and burned the White House and the Capitol. America’s long-term prospects had always been boundless; but only if she could weather the storms of domestic and international turmoil in the short term.

Washington understood all too well what was at stake in 1789. America needed all the help she could get for the challenges that lay ahead. Indeed, Washington saw the hand of God at work in the course of the American Revolution. He had said it was “little short of a standing miracle” that the United States had won the War of Independence against the mighty British empire. As the commander in chief told his best general, Nathanael Greene, at the close of the war:

If Historiographers should be hardy enough to fill the page of History with the advantages that have been gained with unequal numbers (on the part of America) in the course of this contest, and attempt to relate the distressing circumstances under which they have been obtained, it is more than probable that Posterity will bestow on their labors the epithet and marks of fiction; for it will not be believed that such a force as Great Britain has employed for eight years in this Country could be baffled in their plan of Subjugating it by numbers infinitely less, composed of Men oftentimes half starved; always in Rags, without pay, and experiencing, at times, every species of distress which human nature is capable of undergoing.
Washington said much the same in his farewell orders to his soldiers and officers:

A contemplation of the compleat attainment (at a period earlier than could have been expected) of the object for which we contended against so formidable a power cannot but inspire us with astonishment and gratitude. The disadvantageous circumstances on our part, under which the war was undertaken, can never be forgotten. The singular interpositions of Providence in our feeble condition were such, as could scarcely escape the attention of the most unobserving; while the unparalleled perseverence of the Armies of the U States, through almost every possible suffering and discouragement for the space of eight long years, was little short of a standing miracle.
The war could not have been won, Washington emphasized, without the heroic exertions and sacrifices made by those Americans, aided by Divine Providence, who put their lives on the line in what often seemed a hopeless cause.

It is not the meaning nor within the compass of this address to detail the hardships peculiarly incident to our service, or to describe the distresses, which in several instances have resulted from the extremes of hunger and nakedness, combined with the rigours of an inclement season; nor is it necessary to dwell on the dark side of our past affairs. Every American Officer and Soldier must now console himself for any unpleasant circumstances which may have occurred by a recollection of the uncommon scenes in which he has been called to Act no inglorious part, and the astonishing events of which he has been a witness, events which have seldom if ever before taken place on the stage of human action, nor can they probably ever happen again. For who has before seen a disciplined Army formd at once from such raw materials? Who, that was not a witness, could imagine that the most violent local prejudices would cease so soon, and that Men who came from the different parts of the Continent, strongly disposed, by the habits of education, to despise and quarrel with each other, would instantly become but one patriotic band of Brothers, or who, that was not on the spot, can trace the steps by which such a wonderful revolution has been effected, and such a glorious period put to all our warlike toils?
By putting aside their local and sectional jealousies, enduring untold hardships and privations, and forging a national identity in the crucible of the war, the men of the Continental Army had secured the independence of their (sometimes ungrateful) fellow Americans. Victory gave Americans the opportunity to pursue happiness. “It is universally acknowledged,” Washington told the men, “that the enlarged prospects of happiness, opened by the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty, almost exceeds the power of description. . . . In such a Country, so happily circumstanced, the pursuits of Commerce and the cultivation of the soil will unfold to industry the certain road to competence.” Or, as historian John Ferling writes in the conclusion to his magisterial history of the Revolutionary War: “The American people and their soldiers, not just General Washington, had endured to gain a victory that, they prayed, would usher in a world filled with greater promise than would have been their lot under aristocratic, monarchical Great Britain.” (Ferling, Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence [New York: Oxford University Press, 2007], p. 575.) Six years later, President Washington and the American people were embarking on a new stage in the journey to make that hope a reality.

American exceptionalism, Washington firmly believed, rested on Divine Providence. In this Thanksgiving Proclamation, the president was asking the American people to acknowledge the miracle of their new nation and the God-given gift of liberty. These are thoughts we should all keep in mind as we celebrate and count our blessings this Thanksgiving Day.

© 2010 Michael Kaplan

Monday, November 15, 2010

What the Saudi Royals Really Think of America: The Unkind Musings of Princess Reem Al-Faisal

by Michael Kaplan

I came upon a reference to this article in the conclusion to Amy Chua’s book, Day of Empire. Chua, who teaches at Yale Law School, was discussing the impact anti-Americanism, which is most virulent in the Islamic world, might have on America’s future prospects as a democratic hyperpower and civilizational empire. The author of the op-ed, in the English-language Arab News, is Princess Reem Al-Faisal, a professional photographer and granddaughter of the late King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. The princess wrote this screed, worthy of the most rabid America haters on the left, early in the Iraq War in 2003.

Mekkah Mosque during the Haj. By Reem Al-Faisal

The American people, her royal highness proclaims, must get over their obsession with American exceptionalism; for American history is nothing more than a chronicle of unrelieved oppression, atrocity, and misery without precedent in human existence. The American character, in Princess Reem’s considered opinion, is evil and rotten to the core. Here is the full piece:

The Americans insist that most criticism directed toward their policies stems from a deep-seated anti-Americanism, which the entire world has been suffering from since the founding of the US.
In fact I find that the world has been more than forgiving toward the Americans from the very beginning.
If you take a quick look at American history, you will realize instantly that the atrocities committed by the Americans on their fellow man might be one of the worst in human history, and that’s saying much—one, because humanity has reached levels of evil that no other creature on earth can compete with, and two, because the very short history of the American nation makes its crimes even more shocking when compared with other, more ancient lands.
The Americans are responsible for one of the most thorough and extreme genocides in history, that of the Native Americans. Yet the world still sees it as a benign and innocent state which faced great challenges and surmounted them through ingenuity and perseverance. As the Americans proceeded to the extermination of the native people of the land they were conquering, the world looked the other way even though it was generally well documented and the few of them who are left still suffer from discrimination to this day.
After the Native Americans came the African continent. An entire continent was depleted of its richest resource — its people. Four hundred years of a predatory policy in Africa left it crippled and mutilated, and it will take several centuries for it to be restored to its original self—a land of plenty and wealth, a dignified land.
How dare America look the rest of the world in the face, when it refuses even to admit or ask forgiveness from just these people it has so wronged.
You talk about anti-Americanism. I say the world is besotted by an America which never even existed. The land of the free and the home of the brave only exists in the song and nowhere else.
It is time for us, the rest of the world, to see America as it truly is, just another nation with great gifts and terrible faults.
There is nothing special about America, and we, and most of all the American people, must begin to admit this. When we begin to view America in the light of reality, then we might begin to avoid the horrors which have been wreaked on humanity by those who think they are above the rest.
It is time for the American nation to acknowledge its crimes and apologize and ask forgiveness from the many people it has harmed. Beginning with the Native Americans, followed by the Africans and South Americans, right through to the Japanese, who have suffered such horror by being the only race to know the true meaning of weapons of mass destruction.
The US should leave Iraq after apologizing for over a million dead after an unlawful embargo and a colonial war which at best is a farce and at worst a crime.
Finally, ask an American how many died in Vietnam, and he will tell you 58,000. That is because they have wiped out from their mind the three million Vietnamese as they have forgotten every race and nation they have harmed since their inception.
Are the Americans willing to admit their mistakes? This is the most important question of the 21st century, since much of the world’s safety depends on it.
This is the type of bilge that makes Jacksonian America’s blood boil. Princess Reem launched nothing less than a deliberate assault on the honor of the American people and nation. A pampered princess from a repressive society, who’s had everything handed to her and lives off unearned oil wealth, presumed to speak in judgment on the hardworking citizens of the United States. In fact the American people are paying for her royal highness’s lavish lifestyle with the money we pay at the gas pumps, which is reason enough to search for alternative energy sources. Statements like this make Jacksonians understandably suspicious of the intentions of people in the Muslim world. It’s why Jacksonians adamantly reject the idea of a mosque near Ground Zero. By painting the United States as an unregenerate evil nation, Princess Reem lends legitimacy to the terrorist atrocities of 9/11, which were carried out largely by her countrymen (15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi, as is Osama bin Laden). Perhaps she was sending a message to her own country that it should indeed be proud of what was done on 9/11.

The Speech that Made the Conservative Movement: Ronald Reagan’s “A Time for Choosing”

by Michael Kaplan

Ronald Reagan delivered this speech, “A Time for Choosing,” in support of Barry Goldwater on October 27, 1964. Goldwater lost the election in a landslide, but Reagan was transformed into a leader of the conservative movement. Two years later Reagan would be elected governor of California. And the rest is history.

This speech is as good a distillation as there is of the ideas and passions that drive the conservative movement, both in 1964 and in 2010. It showcased Reagan’s charisma and eloquence as a leader who could articulate those ideas in a way that average Americans would find compelling. It is a very Jacksonian speech, emphasizing the themes of individual liberty and responsibility, limited government, entrepreneurship and the power of the free market, rugged individualism, American exceptionalism, and the need to stand up to tyranny.

Here in one key passage, Reagan targets the idea that the American people need the guidance of an intellectual elite:

This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.
Jacksonians have always rejected the idea that intellectual and cultural elites have a better understanding of what’s good for America than do average Americans. Sarah Palin hammers this home in her speeches and it’s central to the Tea Party movement. As is the need to keep government involvement in the economy to a minimum:

Well, I, for one, resent it when a representative of the people refers to you and me, the free men and women of this country, as “the masses.” This is a term we haven’t applied to ourselves in America. But beyond that, “the full power of centralized government”—this was the very thing the Founding Fathers sought to minimize. They knew that governments don’t control things. A government can’t control the economy without controlling people. And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. They also knew, those Founding Fathers, that outside of its legitimate functions, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy.
Reagan proclaimed the need to stand up to tyranny—communism in 1964, radical Islamic jihadism in 2010—denouncing accommodation with or appeasement of those who would reduce human beings to servitude:

Those who would trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state have told us they have a utopian solution of peace without victory. They call their policy “accommodation.” And they say if we'll only avoid any direct confrontation with the enemy, he’ll forget his evil ways and learn to love us. All who oppose them are indicted as warmongers. They say we offer simple answers to complex problems. Well, perhaps there is a simple answer—not an easy answer—but simple: If you and I have the courage to tell our elected officials that we want our national policy based on what we know in our hearts is morally right.
Doesn’t this sound familiar? Reagan made a powerful appeal to American exceptionalism, historical memory, and the power of faith in human affairs:

You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin—just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn't die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well it's a simple answer after all.
And he concluded with a call to arms:

You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.
Reagan was the original Reagan Democrat. He started as a liberal progressive and a supporter of another great orator who appealed to Jacksonians, Franklin Roosevelt. Reagan continued to admire FDR even after his politics took a different turn. But as the Democratic Party moved left, Reagan moved right. Reagan began his transition to conservatism when, as president of Hollywood’s Screen Actors Guild in the late 1940s, he fought against communists who were trying to take control of the union. In the late 1950s Reagan, as host of General Electric Theater, toured GE plants across the country giving speeches and meeting with workers. This gave him a greater appreciation of the workings of business and the free market, completing his transition to conservatism. In 1962 Reagan officially switched his party affiliation, saying, “I didnt leave the Democratic Party; it left me.” Jacksonian America would follow Reagan on that journey.

There was a reason why Reagan was called “The Great Communicator.” This speech set him on the path to become the defining president of the second half of the twentieth century; who would bring about an American revival and send communism onto the ash heap of history. Like Washington and Jackson before him, Reagan was cut from the mold of Cincinnatus, the man who gave up power and returned to his farm when his task was done. Reagan was indeed the most Jacksonian president since Jackson himself. He was one of history’s great liberators.

© 2010 Michael Kaplan

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Behind the Scenes at the White House: An Animated Interpretation by The Fox and Rice Experience

On a more lighthearted note, some political satire 21st-century style. Here is an animated and sardonic look at President Obama and David Axelrod trying to figure out what the 2010 elections really mean. The video, “A Portrait of the President as an Angry Man, by The Fox and Rice Experience is quite humorous in a pop culture way. The avatars of “Barry” and “David Ax-el-rod” take no responsibility for losing the House of Representatives, instead blaming dumb, stupid, Americans (Jacksonians) for not realizing that the president is the “king of awesome.” The video was originally posted on the Human Events website.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Historian Michael Kazin on the Patriotism of Dissent and Whether the Tea Party Can Endure

by Michael Kaplan

Michael Kazin is no fan of the Tea Party movement, but he believes that if it plays its cards right it can have enduring influence on American politics. Kazin, biographer of William Jennings Bryan (see also here, and here) and son of the great literary critic Alfred Kazin, is one of the leading historians of American populist movements. Like most academic historians he is liberal progressive in his politics, though he has been critical at times of the far left. Throughout his career Kazin has tried to answer what he considers the most important question a left-leaning historian can ask: “why have most Americans accepted the legitimacy of the capitalist republic in which they live?”

Kazin is open in his patriotism, which is not the norm for liberal progressives: “I love my country. I love its passionate and endlessly inventive culture, its remarkably diverse landscape, its agonizing and wonderful history. I particularly cherish its civic ideals-social equality, individual liberty, a populist democracy-and the unending struggle to put their laudable, if often contradictory, claims into practice.” Kazin adheres to the patriotism of dissent, a self-critical brand of patriotism that calls on America to live up to its ideals, and has urged liberal progressives to embrace American patriotism in this version. Kazin even goes so far to say that liberal progressivism has a dim future if it sets itself up in uncompromising opposition to American exceptionalism. Unfortunately, most liberal progressives see patriotism and American exceptionalism as unthinking jingoism, “a smokescreen for U.S. hegemony,” and “a triumphal myth we should quickly outgrow.” The upsurge of flag-waving patriotism in the wake of September 11, 2001 only intensified the loathing and contempt in which liberal progressives hold Jacksonian nationalism and those who embrace it.

Unlike many on the left, Kazin recognizes the importance of Jacksonian populist nationalism in shaping the attitudes and commanding the loyalty of the American public for good and ill. The white supremacist side of Jacksonianism “dominated much of American life through the nineteenth century and into the early decades of the twentieth. It led some white Americans to justify exterminating Indians, others to hold slaves, and still others to bar immigrants who did not possess ‘Anglo-Saxon’ genes.” But America’s more tolerant civic nationalism enabled many Americans to fight against fascist and communist tyranny in Europe and to fight for justice at home. Historically, whatever influence the left has had in America has come from embracing Jacksonian-style Americanism and weaving it into the patriotism of dissent to persuade the American public to support progressive reform. “It may be,” Kazin writes,

that Americanism served as a substitute for socialism, an ideology of self-emancipation through equal opportunity that inoculated most citizens against the class-conscious alternative. But leftists made what progress they did by demanding that the nation live up to its stated principles, rather than dismissing them as fatally compromised by the racism of the founders or the abusiveness of flag-waving vigilantes. After all, hope is always more attractive than cynicism, and the gap between promise and fulfillment is narrower for Americanism than it is for other universalist creeds such as communism, Christianity, and Islam.
What liberal progressives have to come to terms with, Kazin insists, is that the American people are committed to Jacksonian nationalism and American exceptionalism. “Love of country was a demotic faith long before September 11, a fact that previous lefts understood and attempted to turn to their advantage.” Liberal internationalism has always been an elite faith, not a popular one. “In the United States, Karl Marx’s dictum that the workers have no country has been refuted time and again. It has been not wage earners but the upper classes-from New England gentry on the Grand Tour a century ago to globe-trotting executives and cybertech professionals today-who view America with an ambivalent shrug, reminiscent of Gertrude Stein's line, ‘America is my country, Paris is my hometown.’”

Friday, November 5, 2010

Vanity Fair Editor: America Has Thrown a Temper Tantrum

by Michael Kaplan

Well it seems that the liberal progressive media elites are not taking Tuesday’s 2010 election results very well. Not well at all. Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair, writes in the December issue (“Man Up, America!”) that the American electorate has, in effect, thrown a massive temper tantrum. This is no surprise. In September, Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post anticipated Carter by calling the American electorate a bunch of spoiled brats ready to throw a temper tantrum. And Tim Wise, the outspoken leftist crusader against racism, congratulates “the White Right” on a temporarily successful temper tantrum in its never-ending quest to bring America back to the good old days white supremacy and black servitude. The liberal progressive elites think, and have long thought, that Jacksonian America is a nation of destructive and ignorant children who need adult supervision to protect them from their own impulsive behavior. Such supervision to be provided by wise and knowing teachers like . . . Graydon Carter and Eugene Robinson.

America is drowning in irrationality and hatred. Or so Carter would have us believe. Admitting that he and his fellow progressives spent eight years indulging in (rational?) Bush hatred, Obama hatred is worse, Carter believes, because it is rooted in racism (Bull Connor, where are you?). And, Carter goes on, “What makes today’s fury more worrying is the fact that angry right-wing extremists tend to carry guns in disproportionate numbers to their liberal counterparts.” Yes, of course, those gun-toting Jacksonians are just waiting for the chance to practice their target shooting on some hapless liberal glossy magazine editors. So Carter turns for analysis of this alarming turn of events to a “distinguished colleague.”

A distinguished colleague of mine likens the wiggy mood of the nation to that of a hormonal teenager. What do you call an electorate that seems prone to acting out irrationally, is full of inchoate rage, and is constantly throwing fits and tantrums? You call it teenaged. Is voting for a deranged Tea Party candidate such as Christine O’Donnell, who has no demonstrable talent for lawmaking, or much else, so different from shouting “Whatever!” and slamming the bedroom door? Is moaning that Obama doesn’t emote enough or get sufficiently angry so different from screaming, “You don’t understand!!!
Such is the extent of “sophisticated” social science analysis from our gurus of the glitterati. Richard Hofstadter, a truly distinguished historian, did it much better sixty years ago.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Marco Rubio’s Victory Speech and the Meaning of American Exceptionalism

by Michael Kaplan

The most eloquent of the Republican victory speeches on election night 2010 was delivered by Florida Senator-elect Marco Rubio. Rubio, young, articulate, and charismatic, is clearly a rising star of the Republican Party and the conservative movement. He is even being talked about as the hoped for “new Reagan” (the latest in a long line) and as a future president, perhaps as soon as 2016, which is what South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint predicts: “In five years, no one will remember Jim DeMint, and Marco will be president.”

In his victory speech Rubio, a man who, like Sarah Palin, is open about his Christian faith, affirmed the greatness of God and His role in human affairs. He went on to celebrate Jacksonian themes of American exceptionalism. “Americans believe with all their heart, the vast majority of them, and the vast majority of Floridians, that the United States of America is simply the single greatest nation in all of human history, a place without equal in the history of all mankind.” This of course is the core belief of Jacksonian nationalism. Calling for the nation to rededicate itself to the American Creed of equal opportunity and justice, Rubio gave no quarter to naysayers who reject American exceptionalism. “Now let me tell you, there are those out there that doubt about the greatness of America. Sometimes when I say it, I hear the snickers from some in different parts. They think it’s simplistic. But see, I know America’s great not because I read about it in a book, but because I’ve seen it with my eyes.Florida’s Cuban community, “a people who lost their country” and their dreams “through an accident of history” understand better than most how precious liberty is and how easily it can be destroyed by tyranny. Rubio locates American exceptionalism in the immigrant experience, the experience of his own life as the son of Cuban exiles.