American Exceptionalism


Tompkins County, NY

“My country, right or wrong,” a jingoistic expression of American Exceptionalism, at least recognizes that we might do wrong.

American Exceptionalism is the idea that America, the United States, is somehow different from other countries, possibly superior, and not bound by the common laws of civilization. Locally, in Western NY, there is a similar idea that we are somehow different from the rest of the state, possibly superior in some way, and our political concerns and needs are unique. This is reflected in the views of separatists who would make western NY a separate state. What is incredible is the idea that Tompkins County alone is somehow different, has different values, different needs, and different political imperatives than other counties in NY-23.

Henry S. Kramer, a Tompkins County GOP official, commenting on another NewNY23rd post, “Tom Reed and his rivals,” wrote: “Robertson’s very liberal voting record, popular in Ithaca, is out of tune with the other ten counties of the 23rd, where people don’t much like Ithaca or anti-fracking activist lobbyists.”

There is no reason for that to be true. Are other counties in NY-23 unaffected by widespread poverty, high unemployment, and low incomes? Is there a reason that others are taken in by Tom Reed’s fanciful claim that only rescinding environmental regulations can spur economic growth while the people of Tompkins County are not?  If fracking is too hazardous for Tompkins county, why would the people of other counties in western NY who value clean air and water, who engage in hunting and fishing, who treasure a pristine environment, be indifferent to the threat of pollution? Is it that they believe Tom Reed’s claim that fracking is a panacea for their stagnant economies? Is there a reason that other NYers don’t like Ithaca, jealous of the vibrant economy there perhaps?  Most likely Mr. Kramer’s claim is wishful thinking, a prophecy that he only hopes will prove true.

If Martha Robertson is elected, perhaps she can help bring the long-term economic prosperity that Tompkins county enjoys to other counties in NY-23, which Tom Reed has failed to do.

© William Hungerford – April 2014



About whungerford

* Contributor at where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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25 Responses to American Exceptionalism

  1. Deb Meeker says:

    You may have noticed as I did when reading Mr. Kramer’s comment; all there was, was ridicule for a very effective legislator – Martha Robertson. Nowhere in Mr. Kramer’s rant was a list of Tom Reed’s accomplishments or improvements for the NY 23rd district. Why would that be?

    Could it be Tom Reed squandered his time in office, and continues to do so? Chasing after state issues ( e.g. the SAFE Act), and when in Washington, voting ” Aye” to only – take away or reduce – needed benefits or insurance, and “Nay” to most beneficial legislation? And, (my personal favorite) making a mockery of the US House or Representatives with his adamant ( specially videoed) insistence he would “Get To the Bottom” of the IRS “scandal” and prove it went “all the way to the top”.


  2. whungerford says:

    The phrase “people don’t much like Ithaca” surprised and offended me the most. Astonishing that a presumably responsible person would deliberately promote prejudice based on a persons place of residence. Do Republicans not like Elmira, Hornell, or Jamestown much either? I don’t think that pitting one community against another serves any civilized purpose.


  3. Anne says:

    I suppose it’s the divide-and-conquer strategy still at work here…convince enough people to vote against their own interests, and the oligarchs can continue to keep everything for themselves!


  4. Deb Meeker says:

    A good point I had over-looked. Since I have friends in several counties in NY 23rd, that comment, on reflection, is absurd.


  5. josephurban says:

    I think what he means is: Us “regular” folks don’t cotton to “your kind” . We don’t care for those “educated ” types….But isn’t that an insult to all the educated people in the other 10 counties? Or is he suggesting that folks (like me) in the other 10 counties are a bunch of dolts who don’t care about environmental issues? I am confused !


  6. Barbara Griffin says:

    I suspect that Tom Reed and his supporters are COUNTING on everyone in the other 10 counties being “a bunch of dolts”.


  7. BOB McGILL says:

    COUNTING on everyone in the other 10 counties being “a bunch of dolts”. ? Having been to dozens of meetings, at which there were Tompkins County residents trying to influence local politicians, it is my opinion, that it is the Tompkins County people who are the DOLTS. They start out by saying, ” I work at Cornell ” then proceed to spew out the biggest bunch of garbage I’ve ever heard. If you listen closely, to these supposed intellectuals, they actually contradict each other and sometimes they will contradict themselves in the same statement. Even the professors at Cornell make fools of themselves with their out dated and inaccurate statements. We local woodchucks laugh our —- off listening to these IDIOTS 🙂


  8. whungerford says:

    Including Tompking County in NY-23, which threatens one-party rule in SW NY, may spur resentment, especially since “designer districts” have long been the rule here.


  9. Anne says:

    That the anti-intellectual movement continues to gain traction in the psyche of the far right baffles me. Remember Santorum accusing Obama of snobbery for his comment of wanting all Americans to go to college? (Remember when Sarah Palin couldn’t name a newspaper or a Supreme Court case?) I wonder where the loudest voices in this comment thread went to college, and what their personal experience of sitting in a classroom at the institution they so broadly attack might be, and whether they have specific examples to back up a claim “even the professors makes fools of themselves with their out [sic] dated and inaccurate statements” and if so, perhaps they could direct the rest of us to those examples? And does Kramer, himself associated with Cornell, fall under the ‘fool’ category or, because he is politically conservative, does he somehow get a pass?


  10. whungerford says:

    The slap at Ithaca may simply reflect a campaign strategy of moving toward the center while pushing Martha Robertson to the left. Tom seems to share Mr. Kramer’s view; he wrote:

    “… Martha Robertson is just another tax and spend liberal. In fact, she’s an extreme Ithaca liberal.”


  11. josephurban says:

    So, your theory is that your place of residence determines your intellectual capacity? OK. Can’t argue with that.


  12. BOB McGILL says:

    gee, weren’t you whining that Tom WOULDN”T chase after the state issue of fracking ?


  13. BOB McGILL says:

    my theory is, just because you work at Cornell doesn’t mean you’re smart


  14. josephurban says:

    And you single out Cornell employees because….?


  15. BOB McGILL says:

    how much time have ya got ? after 3 plus years of following these idiots, it would take a few days to explain just how stupid these people are. Ican to to a Cornell web site and use Cornell’s reasearch to prove these people WRONG !


  16. josephurban says:

    There seems to be a trend of denigrating education among some folks. I am not sure why. Evidence is evidence. The more we learn the better we can be at solving problems. Still, this anti-education trend has been around a long time. Really started back in the 1980s when real evidence of climate change started to emerge. The denial of scientific data is now becoming popular in some quarters. Maybe that is why places like Cornell are targets. They represent the value of careful study and the development of long term solutions. Bad for (some) business.


  17. whungerford says:

    Tom often plays up to the barbarians in his base–he opposes common core standards for education, and while he supports some research, particularly if done in his district, he recently voted to end NSF funding for political science research, and he often ridicules funding for NSF studies which he doesn’t approve. Tom fails to understand that NSF shouldn’t be subject to political censorship.


  18. BOB McGILL says:

    the ones that I have watched seem to expect every one to bow down to them JUST BECAUSE they work at Cornell, like it means anything. It is they, who seem to think they’re superior. I don’t go to a board and say ” I have a blah, blah, blah, IQ.”


  19. BOB McGILL says:…/new…waste-fraud-at-national-science-foundation Cached
    … Fraud at National Science Foundation. New Oversight Report Highlights Billions in Waste, … mismanaged or wasted funds by the National Science Foundation, … 🙂


  20. BOB McGILL says: Cached
    NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION SCAM. Posted on March 1, 2014 | Leave a comment. … But in terms of this science survey, and America’s incarceration rate, …

    “The NSF doesn’t even bother to present itself as note worthy. It simply presents a bunch of opaque statistics and either assumes that the few people who might actually torture themselves by reading it will not question it, or a bunch of pseudo-researchers quickly gathered as much pseudo-information as possible, had to find at least one misleading statistic that would make it look like they and the Department of Education were in dire need of more funding (i.e. higher taxes imposed on us all) lest more and more Americans fail to remember throughout the course of their lives that their admiration for scientists isn’t enough, and that the Earth revolves around the sun, not vice versa, and these pseudo researchers sloppily connected this all together because, again, it will give them more funding (i.e. a raise courtesy of us, the idiots)and of course because the law requires that they do it every two years. This “either/ or question” that stands in place of the NSF’s nonexistent attempt to present themselves as trustworthy is enough to deem the NORC survey as invalid, and the NSF as a bunch of scammers.” 🙂 🙂 🙂


  21. josephurban says:

    The Report referred to (Authored mainly by Senator Coburn, a Republican) is interesting. As the study points out, the NSF has been on the forefront of developing essential scientific and medical technologies (the internet, cloud computing, bar codes, magnetic resonance imaging, buckyballs, etc. ) A great triumph of American know how when money is spent properly. The world and the US is a much better place because of the NSF. And, as the study points out there is some waste and fraud as well. People using funds for their personal trips, companies filing for funds improperly,etc. Luckily, as the study points out, the NSF has gone after many of these fraudulent individuals and companies and gotten refunds. Not all the time, but at least some of the time. As Coburn says, we need to continue to fund scientific research through the NSF and continue to do a better job of oversight so that funds are used properly. After all, our intellectuals are the ones who move science and technology forward. While some of the examples in the study do tend to oversimplify the research, all in all it is worth perusing. It is good to see a Republican actually understanding and supporting scientific research.


  22. josephurban says:

    Sean seems like a nice enough kid. But he does not seem to understand that a scientific survey can be reliable and valid if the population surveyed is representative of the general population. Statistics 101. Similar to the polling done in 2012 in which surveying a few thousand folks (properly represented) was able to predict the victory for Mr Obama. Criticizing a survey because it asked questions of only a few thousand people demonstrates a lack of understanding of modern survey/polling techniques. But, he does seem like a nice enough kid.


  23. Anne says:

    Interesting, given the number of colleges and universities that are located within the 23rd.


  24. Deb Meeker says:

    Frankly, that (promoting fracking) and pumping up gun owners is all Tom apparently has had time for. Oh yes, and well, taking full advantage of tragedies in his family.


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