Obama on America: ‘We Could Create a Society That is the Model for the World. It Isn’t Right Now’

By Elizabeth Harrington | November 26, 2012 | 5:35pm EST

President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

(CNSNews.com) -- Then-Senator-elect Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said in 2004 that he “actually is a believer in American Exceptionalism,” meaning, “we could create a society that is the model for the world.  It isn’t right now.”

“I actually am a believer in American exceptionalism, I know that’s not always popular,” Obama said, at a book signing for Dreams From My Father on Nov. 23, 2004, in New York City.  “But I believe in American exceptionalism, that there is something special about this nation, precisely because this is a nation that is heterogeneous and that is forced to constantly confront the fact that we’re different.”

“And yet somehow there are a set of core values and common beliefs that can bind us together as a single people,” he said.  “And if we can’t pull off that experiment here in the United States, then we can’t be optimistic about what happens in Northern Ireland or Sri Lanka or the Middle East or Rwanda because we have so much to build on.”

“The basic outlines of the government we possess and our civic religion as a people is such that—potentially at least—we could create a society that is the model for the world,” Obama said.

“It isn’t right now,” he said.

“And that’s one of the tragedies of our foreign policy and our domestic policy that’s played out over the last several years,” he added.

Obama’s remarks came just weeks following Republican President George W. Bush’s reelection, and months after he arrived on the national stage following his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.

Five years later, after assuming the presidency in April 2009, Obama said all nations believe they are exceptional, differing from the traditional notion that America is set apart for its religious liberty, free speech, rule of law and economic freedom.

“I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism,” he said. “I am enormously proud of my country and its role and history in the world.”

During the book signing for his autobiography, Obama explained how his upbringing led him to view the United States as a “divided” nation.

“We have this enormous, tragic history that all of us confront from whatever our backgrounds are,” he said, “whether we’re white, black, Hispanic, Asian, whether we’re Muslim, Jew, or Christian.”

“I think that all of us are confronting constantly our history,” Obama said.  “We’re confronting the history and stain of slavery in this country.  We’re confronting the history and problems that arose as a consequence of colonialism.”

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