One of the reasons why Chris Christie is becoming the new Republican darling is his willingness to talk about foreign policy and to bring about the subject of American exceptionalism.
"A lot is being said in this election season about American exceptionalism Implicit in such statements is that we are different and, yes, better, in the sense that our democracy, our economy and our people have delivered," Christie said in his Reagan Library speech.
"But for American exceptionalism to truly deliver hope and a sterling example to the rest of the world, it must be demonstrated, not just asserted," Christie added.
The domestic problems are refraining the U.S. from keeping up with its "own tradition of exceptionalism," Christie said, adding that this same domestic downturn has interfere with the country's ability to affect change.
For the Governor then, the answer to the country's plight should be to be more "discriminating", in a somehow positive way. Coercion he insisted is not the way forward and the country should strictly keep its foreign policy in line with its own national interest.
"The United States must also become more discriminating in what we try to accomplish abroad. We certainly cannot force others to adopt our principles through coercion. Local realities count; we cannot have forced makeovers of other societies in our image. We need to limit ourselves overseas to what is in our national interest so that we can rebuild the foundations of American power here at home - foundations that need to be rebuilt in part so that we can sustain a leadership role in the world for decades to come. "
What Christie calls for it seems is the need to internally regroup, to solidify the nation's foundations at a time where globalisation and international relations are taking over the world. With a Middle East pact with tensions, new international key players such as India, Russia and China demanding for more political voice.
Coming back on what he had just said, Christie then added, "The argument for getting our own house in order is not an argument for turning our back on the world.
We cannot and should not do that. First of all, our economy is dependent on what we export and import. And as we learned the hard way a decade ago, we as a country and a people are vulnerable to terrorists armed with box cutters, bombs, and viruses, be they computer generated or man-made. We need to remain vigilant, and be prepared to act with our friends and allies, to discourage, deter or defend against traditional aggression; to stop the spread of nuclear materials and weapons and the means to deliver them; and to continue to deprive terrorists of the ways, means and opportunity to succeed."
His point however seemed to be that for the U.S. to regain its world supremacy the U.S. first need to focus on its domestic problems and a strong leadership.
"You see, without strong leadership at home-without our domestic house in order-we are taking ourselves out of the equation. Over and over, we are allowing the rest of the world to set the tone without American influence.
I understand full well that succeeding at home, setting an example, is not enough. The United States must be prepared to act. We must be prepared to lead. This takes resources-resources for defence, for intelligence, for homeland security, for diplomacy. The United States will only be able to sustain a leadership position around the world if the resources are there-but the necessary resources will only be there if the foundations of the American economy are healthy. So our economic health is a national security issue as well."
While the main topic of Christie's speech was based on American exeptionalism, it seems to be, just like the concept itself vacillating between contradictions and illusions.
In its classic forms, American exceptionalism refers to the special character of the United States as a uniquely free nation based on democratic ideals and personal liberty.
This special character can be seen as inscribed in the nature of American political institutions founded in the 1776-89 period-the declaration of independence (1776), revolution (1776-83), or the constitution (1787).
While the ideals of American exceptionalism primordially revolved around the "revolution" which saw the U.S. freed from British control are important in ideas of American exceptionalism, many of them failed to transcribed into reality as slavery and segregation do not set well with notions of freedom and equality.
The actual term "American exceptionalism" however was first coined by German Marxists when trying to understand and explain why the US avoided the rise of socialism and Marxism, despite the presence of Marxist parties and theorists and a class conflict.
For Christie it seems American exceptionalism is the reason why the U.S. should still be able to lead the world and set the political trends. To go back the American political age, it seems that Christie argues the country need to re-focus on solving its own domestic problems while still helping safeguard the world.
The problem with Christie's ideas surrounding American exceptionalism is that while the concept might still be appealing to the U.S. domestic public, emerging international key players do not intend to be led by one super power and does thus not take into account the geopolitical realities of the new centuries.
American nationalism can be best explained as a "national myth" bound by a series of narrative derived from a specific series of events and a specific vision used to described them.
All in all it seems that just like the concept Christie's story is the one that can attract a wide public, as Americans have for long complained that while Washington's focused on the international arena, domestic problems often took a second position. Finding the ideal balance between dominating the international realm and overcoming most of the serious domestic problems has until now proven the most tricky.
Before Obama became President he also started making waves by also insisting he had the recipe that would enable him to rework America's image abroad, remain at the top of the international arena, and continue to fight off terrorism while managing to tackle domestic problems, while also avoiding imposing its ideals or expectation by using coercion.
The problem with most political speeches however is that while they are usually aimed at enticing the audience and producing more supporters, they often provide for an over-simplified vision of both the internal and domestic realm, creating a series of mini-political myths.