Burning down the (White) House: Partisan attempts to undermine American exceptionalism

Bryan Mclaughlin, Amber Krause

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although it is well established that U.S. politicians tend to promote American exceptionalism, we argue that partisans often attempt to undermine American exceptionalism when doing so improves the standing of their party. Results of three studies provide support for this expectation. Study 1, using American National Election Studies cumulative data, finds that evaluations of the United States' global standing are linked to evaluations of the political parties. Further, which party currently holds the White House affects partisans' appraisals of the nation's global standing. Study 2 employs an experiment where partisans are exposed to a news story proclaiming American exceptionalism to either be intact or in jeopardy. Results provide additional evidence that appraisals of the United States' global standing are more pessimistic when the president is from the opposing party. Study 3 uses a content analysis of presidential convention speeches and demonstrates that presidential candidates attempt to undermine American exceptionalism when the other party holds the White House.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4672-4693
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Communication
Volume11
StatePublished - 2017

Keywords

  • American exceptionalism
  • Motivated reasoning
  • National identity
  • Partisan identity
  • Presidential discourse
  • Social identity theory

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