American Exceptionalism, Is It True? 80 Days Around The World: The Left today claim that American Exceptionalism is false, and if it were true, only the bad things about America make us exceptionally different. But is that true? If the Left are correct, then why did people like Alexis de Tocqueville, a French diplomat, political scientist, and historian write a famous book proclaiming the undeniable fact of American Exceptionalism? Tune in now to hear how Larry Taunton is traveling the world in 80 days to find out the truth on American Exceptionalism.
Air Date: 09/04/2017
Guests: Larry Taunton, David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Faith And The Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture, this is WallBuilders Live! Where we’re talking about today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture, all of it from a Biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.
We’re doing that with David Barton, America’s premier historian and our founder here at WallBuilders. Also, Tim Barton, national speaker, pastor, and president of WallBuilders. And my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas state rep, national speaker, and author.
Find out more about us at our websites WallBuildersLive.com. That’s where you can get archive’s of the program over the last few weeks, a list of our stations around the country and also some of today’s news.
At WallBuilders.com you get a wealth of resources there as well for your church, for Sunday school class, for your home school, for anybody that wants to learn how to be a better citizen and learn about the nation’s Founding.
Why Professors Say About American Exceptionalism
Later in the program, Larry Taunton is going to be with us. We’re going to be talking about his trip around the world, around the world in 80 days. David, Tim, I think we could get in the hot air balloon with him and go, I don’t know if Jackie Chan’s going or not, but it does pretty cool.
That’s a new one, you could go back to David Niven for the other ones, so you’ve got two 80 days, the original. What he’s going to do is look at American exceptionalism. Because right now it’s under attack in academia.
By the way, American Exceptionalism is pretty simple, it just means America is the exception not the rule in so many good categories. That there’s something special here. We’re a very blessed place. We’ve had our Constitution now for 230 years and the average length of the Constitution of the world is 17 years, so we’re the exception, not the rule.
You look at freedom, Freedom House is a group that monitors political and civil liberties across all the nations of the world. America gets a number one for political rights and civil liberties, other groups put as at number one too.
Creativity, our four percent of the world’s population produces more inventions and patents every year than the rest of the 96 percent of the world. Our 4 percent of the population has more than 50 percent of the world’s Nobel Prizes in physics, and chemistry, and medicine, and literature, and all this stuff. Our 4 percent has 25 percent of the world’s GDP.
So you get all these things that are just phenomenal about America. Yet, I made a collection of some of the quotes out there from academics saying that, “America is not exceptional.” “The United States is said to be a nation of immigrants. But historically, such countries such as Argentina had a higher rate of foreign born population in the 19th century. So they are equally, if not more deserving, of being called ‘exceptional.”
Ok, Argentina and United States. Argentina is just as exceptional as the United States. That’s a little strange.
Here’s another professor who says, “Our military missteps in Vietnam, and Afghanistan, Iraq, and the decline of American power abroad, and domestic problems here among races and religions, it makes us not exceptional. It makes us just like everybody else in the world.” So there’s another academic saying that there’s nothing special about us. And I just go through all these guys.
So what’s happening is Larry is going to all these countries all over the world to see if America really is different from these other countries. It’s going to be a great report when he is coming back.
People can follow his articles, they will be up daily on Web sites and you can see what’s happening in other places the world. But it is the defense of what we already all know and that is that America is a very blessed and very special place.
Alright, Larry on with us when we return. Stay with us here on WallBuilders Live.
Moment From American History
This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. Alexis De Tocqueville, a political official from France, traveled to the United States in 1831 and penned his observations in the now famous book, “Democracy In America.”
Being from France, what he found in America was completely unexpected to him. He reported, “Upon my arrival in the United States, the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention. And the longer I stayed there the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from this. In France, I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom marching in opposite
80 Days Around The World
Welcome back, thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. Our special guest today is Larry Taunton, you’ve probably seen him online, seen some of his videos, if you haven’t, you need to read his books as well. He’s the author of the Grace effect and The Faith of Christopher Hitchens.
Also, Fixpoint Foundation, young people go check it out. Looks like an incredible opportunity. But right now, he’s in the middle of Around the World in 80 Days. Traveling to all these countries to find out what makes America so special. Larry, thanks so much for coming on the program during this crazy schedule of yours.
Hey, I’m delighted to be with you, Rick.
I’m really excited about what you’re doing, man. I follow your work and really excited about the message that I believe is going to come out of this Around the World in 80 Days.
The blog posts are fantastic, the pictures, the videos, we want our listeners to check it out. So thanks for coming on to tell us about it. Thanks for interrupting your 80 days. So, how many countries have you been to so far?
Well, none yet.
Oh, I thought you started already.
No, I start this Friday. Actually, we away anchor the hot air balloon on Friday. And we will hit 23 countries on six continents on our 80-day journey. It’s my son and I, we’re very excited about it.
By the way, give us which one of your websites, you’ve got the foundation, you’ve got a blog-
http://larryalextaunton.com. You go there and you’ll see the articles that I write. I’ve got a piece up now with FOX News, another with Christian Post, and another one coming out with American Spectator, and you can find access to books.
The videos which you mentioned before, debates with Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens, my debate on the Muslim clerics, and this kind of thing.
But the idea behind it-
Hey, Larry, before you jump in real quick, I also saw that you just did another Socrates in the City with Metaxas, the one in New York, it’s fantastic. The one you just did I haven’t actually seen it. but you posted that y’all did one in, where were you? In Italy or somewhere?
Fixed Point Foundation Changing The Lives Of Our Youth
We were in the south of France. Every year we take students as a part of something called the Fixed Point Institute for Applied Apologetics. We have students apply for that, you can go to http://larryalextaunton.com. Email us, if you’re interested. It’s for high school and college students. We have fabulous faculty, people like the John Lennox who is part of our faculty this summer.
We spend a full summer equipping and sharpening and training students to proclaim and defend their faith, we do it in Europe because it’s a great classroom. If you’re in the mountains of North Carolina or somewhere out west and you’re talking about militant secularism and Islam, sometimes those issues just don’t feel quite as real as they do in that in that environment.
So we do that every year for the past three years. It’s really been spectacular. But there is an application process, vetting, and we look for the right students. But Eric was a part of our faculty, Eric Metaxas, was part of our faculty this year.
He came over on the property, the students were the audience, which was exciting for them, we filmed four Socrates in the city of Venice. Two with John Lennox, one with John Lennox and myself, and one with just me and Eric. Those will be aired, I think sometime this fall.
Well, as much fun as it looks like in New York, I can’t imagine how cool this one was. I appreciate you talking about all that, I know I didn’t forewarn you, I was going to ask you about that in this interview.
I’m happy to talk about it.
I love what you’re doing there at Fixed Point as well, investing in the next generation.
What The Left Says About American Exceptionalism
Let’s talk about the trip. So you were about to tell us what gave you the idea for this, kind of this reverse de Tocqueville deal that you did.
Well, the whole idea behind this trip is that I’m constantly hearing- as I listen to the cultural conversation, as I know you do too. If I were to summarize the arguments that are emanating from the left, they may be put this way, “American exceptionalism is now not only dead, it’s offensive. The ways that America is exceptional are all bad for America.” These would be the things they would say.
They would say that America is out of step with the world on the environment, that we need to give up more of our national sovereignty to a world government, that we all we need to open our borders, we are out of step on immigration, any number of things. Particularly, our antiquated Christian faith. They would say that these are all things that are out of step with the rest of the world and we need to get rid of it.
You just kind of summarized, by the way, the essence of most college education today. So a lot of these young people coming out believe in everything that you just said.
Listen, that’s a whole other discussion, one that you don’t want to get me started on. Our universities have become incubators of radicalism.
A good reason for this trip because it will help to point out the fallacy of all those things, go ahead.
The reality is Rick, I’m a guy who has been around the world. I’ve been in 30 or 40 countries, I’ve just returned from three months in Europe, I’ve already been on six continents. When I hear the left saying the kinds of things that I have just said, it has started me thinking, “What country in the world? If America is not great who is? What country would they have preferred as a model for the new America that they would create?”
Seeing The Contrast Between America And Other Countries
So by way of educating people and encouraging, Christians in particular and social conservatives, I decided that I would go on this around the world in 80 days.
We’re going to hit various countries, I’ll be blogging, I’ll be writing about each of these countries on http://larryalextaunton.com and on my Twitter feed. I’m very active on Twitter, @LarryTaunton.
What we’re going to do is we’re going to show you what the rest of the world is like. And look at those countries that would be competitors of potential models for the left, of what they what they think America should be like. Which is to say chiefly like this secular, socialist, democracies that we find in Western Europe.
We’re also going to give you a glimpse of what America risks becoming. We would do well to reflect on the values that have made America great in the first place. By this I mean chiefly, her faith is what has set America apart.
G.K. Chesterton said that America is different from other countries because it’s a country that was founded on a creed. The further we get away from that creed the more imperiled our freedoms that we enjoy become.
Freedom, religious, economic, and political freedom are all very fragile things. So on this trip-
You can you can see us getting away from those things now. So your idea is that we’ll see the contrast through your eyes as you go to the other countries. Because sometimes you don’t notice it happening, it’s so slow here. Now granted, last decade or two has been extremely rapid. But still, we’re immersed in the changes here and we don’t necessarily see them as fast.
It seems to me when you do this you’re going to be pointing out the contrast with these other countries, it’s really going to illuminate that. We’re going to take a quick break, we’ll be right back. Larry Taunton, our guest today, stay with us, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
Hey, guys, this is Tim Barton with WallBuilders. I know you hear my dad and Rick talk a lot about our Founding Fathers about the original intent of our nation, a constitutional heritage that we have. And really we’ve seen how far we slipped away from that. And I know a lot of us as we hear my dad and Rick talk think, “I wish there was a place that I could go where I could see these documents and I could read and learn about the Founding Fathers firsthand. See the things they did.”
I want to give you some websites today that can help you accomplish that very thing. If you get online you can go to places like Library of Congress and you can look under their century of lawmaking or historical documents. You can go to the Avalon Project, to the Founders Constitution, Google Books, or even the internet archives.
Or you can just go to WallBuilders.com. We have a section for our WallBuilders Library. And under that section, we have different subgroups for historical documents, historical writings, even a place where you can get helpful links to find out more information about other websites. Where you can do research for yourself and find the truth for yourself. Friends, this is the time that we need to know who we are and where we came from. WallBuilders.com is a great place to go.
Keeping America Exceptional
Welcome back, thanks for staying with us here on WallBuildres Live, Larry Taunton, our guest today, he’s doing Around the World in 80 Days, looking at other countries and comparing that to American exceptionalism and saying, “Is America actually different?” Larry, before the break we were talking about how by doing this it will cause people to really study and look at what is it that made America so unique.
Oh for sure. What we’re going to do is give you a glimpse of the rest of the world. Please understand that the point of this trip is not to trash the rest of the world. There are many other parts of the world that I very much enjoy and appreciate. I can look and say, “They’re doing this right and they do it better that we do it in America.” However, in the big picture America’s sins, which are very real, are notwithstanding.
America remains, at least from, my perspective having been in so many countries around the world, the best option. What I would want to say to Americans who are constantly being told how bad they are for the world and how they really need to change their ways, I would want to suggest to them, you remain. You remain a beacon of hope for the world.
I’ve yet to be in a country where people weren’t trying to get to the United States. All this is by way of saying that we would do well as Christians, as Americans, to reflect on our core principles, our core values, that have served to make this country great.
If America is ever to be great again, to borrow Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, then it will require a third great awakening. It will require Americans fulfilling the Great Commission.
American Exceptionalism, The Truth, Why We Are Exceptional
These are the things, ultimately human nature is the same in the world all over, of course, it is. What is it that has separated America in the West historically from the rest of the world? If human nature is the same in North Korea and America why isn’t America like North Korea or North Korea like America? It has to do with the degree to which the Gospel has penetrated this country and hasn’t penetrated North Korea.
So good. I remember visiting pastor a few weeks ago and he was talking specifically about the Gospel, but it applies even to the nations. He said, “When you criticize and are analytical about your nation or your church, you’ve got to be equally analytical about the alternatives out there, not just pick on whatever it was that we did wrong.”
It sounds like, from what you’re saying, you take the same approach as David and I do here, in terms of you’ve got to take the good, the bad, and the ugly. You don’t leave out the bad or perfume over the sins of the nation, but you’ve got to tell the whole picture. You’ve got to look at an honest analysis of what would it be like if we didn’t have that faith in our country, how different would it be?
We’re going to show you on this trip what America risks becoming. I think that the majority of your listeners, I would guess, would agree with me that America teeters on the brink of anarchy. We risk losing those things that are so dear to us that are found in the bill of rights. The freedom of religion and assembly, press, petition, and speech. These were all things that are very dear to the American experience and are things that other people in the world, generally speaking, obviously, there are exceptions to this long for.
We’re also going to explore the question of national greatness. We’re going to find out, we’re constantly being told that the world hates, the world hates us. Well you know, anecdotally speaking, I have not found this to be the case.
Even in places like Russia and China where I was quite certain they wouldn’t like us. You often hear that the French hate Americans, most French want to be Americans, which startled me. I’ve spent an awful lot of time in that country and it’s a very amusing thing to discover that sometimes your perceptions are not the reality.
They could not be a more important time to really figure out who we are. Like you’re saying, we’re at this brink where people are asking, “Who are we really? What does it mean to be an American?” We’re going down these all these various paths and what a great time to say what made us different and let’s compare it to other countries.
Staying Updated On The 80 Day Trip Around The World
Obviously, the blog but are you going to be doing updated videos as well, as you travel?
We will, I’m going to be doing a variety of radio shows that are following us all the way through. You guys should be along on that journey. But they’re tracking us the entire way.
We’re posting video, I’m calling in all that way, which should be itself interesting. So, yes, I’ll be posting videos, my son is going to be posting videos of the experience, and there will there will be a video diary along with the articles that I will publish on http://larryalextaunton.com.
Daily Caller is publishing the whole thing. All of it will be there including interviews on the http://larryalextaunton.com Web site and in my Twitter feed @LarryTaunton will have a lot of this. But you know, what you were just saying Rick, is so true. When I came up with the idea of this 10 months ago, or whenever it was, this concept was timely then. But we just had a staff meeting this morning and saying, “Is there ever been a project that we have undertaken that has been more timely and potentially explosive than this one?”
The left will absolutely trash me you know for this project. They’ll say it’s xenophobic and Islamophobic, and I’m sure all sorts of other phobics will be will be attached to that. But the opportunity here to get out the very thing you just said, which is just dead on, is that America is going through an identity crisis and we want to remind Americans who they are.
You mentioned Alexis de Tocqueville. De Tocqueville came to America in 1831, as you well know, he published his famous work Democracy in America, in which he was searching out the source of American strength.
What most people don’t realize is that book wasn’t written for Americans. It was written for his native country, for the people in France, to help them because they were struggling with an identity crisis. They were going through very turbulent times, “Who are we? Is a democracy a legitimate thing? And should it be pursued on the heels of a failed monarchy?”
In a sense, this is what I’m doing. Except I’m doing, as you say, a reverse. I’m going to the world to remind Americans, in these turbulent times, who they are and who the world needs them to be.
No doubt. We need it. Brother, I’m super excited about it. I think you’re right, you’re going to get a lot of criticism. Who knows, you may join our elite group there with the Southern Poverty Law Center of hate groups. You can join David, and me, and Matt Staver, and Tony Perkins, and you’re probably already on it, I don’t know if you’re are, but anyway.
I very well could be.
You’re definitely going to get criticism but what a what a great-
I think they would qualify as a hate group in it of themselves.
No question. Listen, we’d love to get updates from you. We’re going to put links to both your web site and the Twitter feed on our web on WallBuilders Live today. I would love to get updates from you. Will be praying for you on the trip and just super excited about the impact this is going to have on the on the psyche of America, really. “Who are we and what do we really believe about ourselves and our place in the world?” Larry, God bless you, man. You’re going to have a great time and it’s going to have a great impact.
All right, thank you my friend and you take care.
Stay with us folks will be right back with David and Tim Barton.
Hi friends! This is Tim Barton of WallBuilders.This is a time when most Americans don’t know much about American history or even heroes of the faith. I know, oftentimes as parents, we’re trying to find good content for our kids to read.
If you remember back in the Bible, the Book of Hebrews it has the Faith Hall of Fame, where they outlined the leaders of faith that had gone before them. Well, this is something that as Americans we really want to go back and outline some of these heroes not just of American history, but heroes of Christianity and our faith as well.
I wanted to let you know about some biographical sketches we have available on our website. One is called, “The Courageous Leaders Collection” and this collection includes people like Abigail Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Francis Scott Key, George Washington Carver, Susanna Wesley, even the Wright brothers.
There’s a second collection called, “Heroes of History” in this collection you read about people like Benjamin Franklin, Christopher Columbus, Daniel Boone, George Washington, Harriet Tubman, the list goes on and on.
This is a great collection for your young person to have and read. And it’s a providential view of American and Christian history. This is available at WallBuilders.com.
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live, thanks to Larry Taunton for joining us here on WallBuilders. Back now with David and Tim Barton. This actually sounds kind of fun guys. I’m not a big Europe fan but I would like to go see Omaha Beach and some of those cool places. Sounds like Larry is really going to hit a lot of countries in a short period of time and compare them to the U.S.
I would love to jump in that hot air balloon on Friday and go with him as he said, he and his son are going to have an incredible trip. But ass we mentioned, it’s going to be interesting to see the distinctions and differences they find.
As he identified, look, if there are places that do it better than we do in America, there are lessons we can learn from them. So this isn’t an American elitist attitude he has but, “Let’s really just evaluate, let’s see what’s out there, see what America does well, what other nations do well, and maybe we can learn from it.”
Alexis De Tocqueville’s View Of American Exceptionalism
As we’ve discovered, even in our limited travel, there’s a lot of nations that don’t enjoy the blessings and benefit that we do in America. This is where, we’ve known for a long time Alexis de Tocqueville in 1831 identified that this is a special place, “It’s quite exceptional and it made me believed that no Democratic people would ever be placed in a similar position as what the Americans have.” So certainly, I’m interested in his findings to see what he’s going to discover.
Hopefully, we’ll get some updates while he’s out there on the tour even if we just share them on our Good News Friday. I think most of us, I know me, I’ve never really been out of the country. I’ve been to Canada a couple of times, Mexico a couple of times, but I’ve never been-
Except to California.
That’s what it feels like, anything outside of Texas feels like it’s outside of the country. But most Americans are like me, they don’t have anything to compare it to. So they hear all this bashing, that you were talking about earlier David, and they don’t know whether America is better or worse than most nations.
And all you have to do is go on a mission trip to any nation and you will quickly discover that most nations are nowhere close to the level of what we enjoy here in America.
Yeah, no doubt about it. I hope we will get good reports from Larry Taunton to learn that as well. Thank you for listening today folks, you’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live!