One of the problems with the idea of "American exceptionalism" is that it exacerbates a kind of complacency common to man. This is the phenomenon whereby people often view themselves as exceptions -- saying, after some tragedy, for instance, something such as "I never thought it could happen to me."
On a national level -- and this especially plagues great nations -- this manifests itself in the notion that "it" could never happen here. Oh, the "it" could be descent into tyranny, domination by a foreign power, or dissolution. Or maybe it could be the election of a leader who is a Manchurian candidate, a traitor within, someone bent on destroying the nation that gave him everything. That..."it"...couldn't happen here. In fact, the idea is so preposterous to many Americans that if such a threat loomed, they would never see it coming. And they would call a person who warned of it a nut.
So I want to present you with a hypothetical. Let's say a leader were elected who had, during his childhood, been mentored by an avowed Nazi. Let us further say that his guardians had chosen this mentor for him, indicating that they were likely sympathetic to the man's beliefs. Now, let us say that upon reaching college, this future leader gravitated toward Nazi professors. Moreover, we then find out that a man who knew the leader as an undergraduate and was, at the time, a Nazi himself, said that the leader was "in 100-percent total agreement" with his Nazi professors and was a flat-out Nazi who believed in old-style Brownshirt tactics.
Okay, we're almost done. After graduating, the leader-to-be spends twenty years sitting in a white-power church, has an alliance with a self-proclaimed Nazi and ex-terrorist, and, apparently, becomes a member of a National Socialist party for a while. And then, upon being elected, he appoints an avowed Nazi to his administration and also a woman who cites Adolf Hitler as one of her two favorite philosophers. Now here's the million-depreciated-dollar question:
What would be nuttier: to claim that this man was a Nazi or to claim that such an assertion is out-of-bounds?
Furthermore, if people appeared unconcerned about the leader's radical past, what would be the most likely explanation?
A. They're sympathetic to Nazism.
B. They're ignorant of his personal history.
C. They're rationalizing away a frightening reality.
D. Some combination of the above.
Let's now transition to the actual. Here is a fact: If you took the above description of my hypothetical leader and replaced "Nazi" with "communist," "flat-out Nazi" with "flat-out Marxist-Leninist," "Brownshirt tactics" with "communist revolution," "white-power" with "black-power," "National Socialist" with "socialist," and "Adolf Hitler" "with Mao Tse-tung," you would have an accurate description of a leader in power today.