House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) may not think highly of party platforms, but a new Pew Research Center poll released Monday suggests that the American public is, in fact, more interested in the GOP platform than in presumptive nominee Mitt Romney's convention speech. When the document, which will contain many familiar talking points on foreign policy, is released this afternoon, what might garner the most attention?
As I noted last week, the platform is likely to champion a guest-worker program and "Internet freedom" for the first time. But a draft accidently posted to the Republican National Committee's website on Friday suggests another milestone as well: the first reference in either a Democratic or Republican platform to the term "American exceptionalism."
At the beginning of its foreign-policy section, entitled, "American Exceptionalism," the platform declares that the party believes not only in Ronald Reagan's vision of "peace through strength" but also in "American exceptionalism -- the conviction that our country holds a unique place and role in human history."
Party platforms, of course, have long extolled America's special character and mission in global affairs. But, according to a search of past party manifestos, this appears to be the first time that "American exceptionalism" has been used to describe that sentiment. The term has gradually insinuated itself into political discourse over the past decade; in 2009, Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to use the phrase. "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, in a line that Republicans have repeatedly criticized (Obama has since emphasized his belief in the concept).
Mitt Romney in particular has embraced this theme. He's the author of No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, and he argues on the campaign trail that Obama doesn't agree with the thesis of his book. "Our president doesn't have the same feelings about American exceptionalism that we do," he declared in March. The big question, of course, is what exactly the phrase signifies in the context of the campaign. Is it simply a slogan? Or is it a worldview that speaks to how Romney would exercise U.S. leadership?
Here are some other surprising lines in the draft platform that you'll want to look out for as you pore over the final version of the text today:
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