*Once upon a time the world was a very static place. Where a man was born was usually where he died. He made his living doing what his father did. Social mobility was almost non existent and religious diversity was not tolerated.

Into this reality a country was born. This country broke with the tradition of the time by eschewing a monarchy. It would be a place where one could improve their social station, where all citizens would have access to the tools of the economy, the ability to participate in government, and worship the god of their choosing in the manner of their choosing. Eventually this  country would endow women and people of color with citizenship privileges. All of these things made this country exceptional among the nations of the world. This country had advanced human civilization in many ways, so much so that it became the model for other countries beginning to alter their societies; in fact other countries began to incorporate these same innovations.

However since the Great Depression while other countries have welcomed the opportunity to truly reform capitalism and embraced further social change. Whereas the same country that had been at the vanguard of innovation instead protected capitalism and social change has increasingly been met with reactionary movements. In comparison to other developed countries it finds itself lagging behind in education, healthcare, and is the largest debtor nation on the globe. In fact while this country continues to face high amounts of legal and illegal immigration, it can only be said to be an international leader in the military arena and in culture. Unfortunately the things that used to make this country exceptional are no longer its strong points, while its main asset (the military) produces a negative reaction in the world.

The United States is no longer the shining example of what a great society should be. For much of its history it was where other nations looked to observe the ideal. Now we are dependent on other countries to finance our national debt and power our machines. Where did our uniqueness go? And how can e get it back?

Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War and he maintains a blog called This SeemsFamiliar.  You can reach him at [email protected]