Home | About | Donate

"We Are Not Denmark": Hillary Clinton and Liberal American Exceptionalism


"We Are Not Denmark": Hillary Clinton and Liberal American Exceptionalism

Matthew Stanley

Several months removed, it now seems clear that the Democratic debate on October 13 contained an illuminating moment that has come to embody the 2016 Democratic Primary and the key differences between its two candidates. Confronting Bernie Sanders’s insistence that the United States has much to learn from more socialized nations, particularly the Nordic Model, Hillary Clinton was direct: “I love Denmark. But we are not Denmark. We are the United States of America.”


We aren't Denmark. We don't have a monarchy, they do.


As always, refreshing to read someone with a foundation of knowledge of what liberalism has meant.

Despite a certain concept of "liberalism" that remains in certain "liberals" in the USA who identify with the 20th century New Deal and the social movements of "the '60s", liberalism HAS ALWAYS BEEN the ideology of capital. Liberalism has done more than serve capital, but it has never not served capital.

Political Liberalism, Economic Liberalism, and Social Liberalism - while unarguably containing important critiques of past systems of political economic and social power - all have served most fundamentally as liberating to the forces of capital.

The more recent Social Welfare Liberalism has attempted (with mixed results) to address the mass impoverishment and hyper-concentration of wealth and power that rampant capital inevitably creates. But it would be helpful to understanding "liberalism" if those in the USA who retain the sense that "liberal" means "all things politically good," would look at the potent service that liberalism has always, and with key significance provided to capital.

The term neoliberal is understood throughout Latin America as the second coming of liberalism. The height of the first wave of liberalism in Mexico was the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz, blatantly enforcing restructuring of the Mexican political economy in the interests of transnational capital. The rise of "neoliberalism" is not understood as "These political leaders have ruined a great historical tradition," but more as "These political leaders are serving the looting class, just as past liberals did." Liberalism has been experienced by people all over the world as the enforced usurpation of their communities on behalf of outside economic interests.

The fact that inside the USA there is historical amnesia around such fundamental matters, leads among other things to the impossibility of even having a discussion, as people argue over the supposedly lost meaning of the word "liberal," instead of just looking coldly at whose interests are in play.


Well said!


I loved this article as i am one of those people who believe that American exceptionalism and Manifest Destiny are the pervasive, all-encompassing thoughts that marshall all political thinking in the U.S.. Because these insidious, dystopic and sociopathic ideologies are omnipresent, they are invisible.
The observations that liberalism and other specific political issues inevitably reflect this mental illness is crucial to acknowledge, as there is no possibility of a sane political discussion with the majority who still think that America is the greatest, and, that it is obvious the choice is either dems or thugs. No amount of international data nor rampant, perennial national contradictions, lies and folly can overturn this twisted religious belief that is quintessentially extremist. The madness continue unabated.


Bernie used to be more explicit in his calls for cutting the defense budget, and I'm sure that a pre-Presidential candidate Sanders would be railing against Obama's call for a $1 Trillion overhaul of our nuclear weapons arsenal. Sanders obviously doesn't think he can get away with calling for the end of our nuclear weapons arsenal and be taken seriously as a Presidential candidate, and shame on the rest of us for that fear.


Hillary: "We are not Denmark"

Answer: True, we may not be as good, YET. But we are exceptional in our ability to reach any goal we set for ourselves: go to the moon, develop the internet, you name it. Next: be more like Denmark. That's why we want presidential candidates with a can-do spirit, in the best American tradition; naysayers need not apply for the job.


The following 2 premises must be shown in direct relationship:

"Like every liberal president (and most failed Democratic nominees) since Wilson, she wants the United States to be the dominant power in the world, so she doesn’t question the massive sums spent on the military and on the other branches of the national-security state.”


"Now the 2016 Democratic Primary has seen progressive ideas including universal health care, tuition-free college, and a living minimum wage, all hallmarks of large swaths of the rest of the developed world, delegitimized through some mutation of liberal exceptionalist thinking. These broadminded reforms are apparently off limits, not because they are not good ideas (though opponents make that appraisal too), but because somehow their unachievability is exceptional to the United States."

The money it takes to shore up a global military arsenal does make those humane programs next-to-impossible.

I don't think the average public citizen chose these priorities. And after World War II, those American Dynasty families that run the State Department, so much of commerce, academe, and government saw a huge potential to seize dominant control... of the globe!

That's why they imported the world's biggest bad-asses: Nazis. And this dark seed grew into its own Cancer gradually turning so much of our nation into a Fourth Reich.

Homeland Security. Border Patrols. Spying. Universal Surveillance. Witch-hunts against whistle blowers. Huge celebration of force, guns, the armed forces, and being "tough." Use of a necessary scapegoat--in this case Muslims (with Latinos as "illegal aliens" the fallback group, added to the Black Community). And merging media (in very sophisticated, often subliminal ways) into a propaganda arm of the make-war state... the conditioning hidden behind "entertainment."

Most people cannot or will not argue with a gun pointed at them. In my view, that is the virtual state of America. And I have a name for it: Mars rules.


For those who believe the Scandinavian/Nordic Model is the "standard" to be modeled after, I recommend that you read the following article in its entirety:


The Nordic nations proved no less susceptible to global economic shifts than any other country. From the 1980s on, as the globalisation of production undermined all national reformist programmes and the bourgeoisie launched its counteroffensive led by US President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, successive Swedish governments began rolling back public services and welfare provisions. The ruling elite, increasingly dependent on the global economy for the sale of its products and for financial speculation, no longer had an interest in the maintenance of the nationally-regulated labour relations system which had dominated since the war.

From the 1990s, Social Democratic governments took the lead in the destruction of public services, with the full collaboration of the trade unions. In Sweden, the Social Democratic government, which came to power in the aftermath of the Nordic banking crisis of the early 1990s, held office from 1994 to 2006 and oversaw large scale privatisations in education and health care, along with welfare spending cuts. Its right-wing record helped pave the way for the conservative Alliance government under Moderate Party Prime Minister Frederick Reinfeldt, which launched the largest privatisation drive in Swedish history when it came into office.

In Denmark, Social Democracy likewise swung sharply rightward. The government of Poul Nyrup Rasmussen in the 1990s imposed cuts on welfare spending and pushed for Danish adoption of the euro, which served as a mechanism across the continent for lowering wages and workers’ living standards. When this government was voted out of office in 2001, having lost a referendum on the euro, the Social Democrats embraced the right-wing policies of the Anders Fogh Rasmussen Venster government, which relied on the far right, nationalist Danish People’s Party (DF) for support. This government implemented the strictest immigration system in Europe and supported the US-led imperialist war in Iraq.


Well the USA is NOT Denmark.

Two republican Senators in the State of Illinois have proposed cutting all single mothers and their children from financial aid unless said woman can provide the name of the father of the child. The State would refuse to issue the newborns birth certificates , meaning in essence they are non persons and have no right to any aid.

This the same Republican party that preaches the "sanctity of life" as they pass laws and legislation that limit Womens access to abortions.

Are there any politicians of that same sort ever elected to office in Denmark?

Ms Clinton is right. The USA is not Denmark. It is not Denmark because those running the country called the United States of America are sociopaths. They are religious nut cases. They are greedy self serving bastards.

The issue is not that the people of the USA are exceptional, it is that those that are running the country are exceptional. They are every bit as exceptional as any brutal tyrant from history that ever existed from the Pol Pots to the Caligula's. There are a whole passel of them and in the USA they tend to get elected to public office. They are "exceptional" because none of them have a lick of humanity or compassion. They are a species apart. They are the 1 percent and by definition being part of that club makes them "exceptional".

The real tragedy is that too many of that 99 percent want to be part of that 1 percent.


I think the "manifest destiny" was wreaking havoc in the western hemisphere and elsewhere quite effectively prior to the importation of nazi apparatchiks, thank you. If I am not mistaken, 1945 is definitely after 1865 in history, just to use one marker.



I have to admit that reading progressive sites like these almost exclusively, leads to self deception. I end up thinking that Hillary cannot possibly win the election when the reality is different. I try to hold my nose and watch what the mainstream is watching but it is depressing. And I can't move to Denmark because they can't take any more immigrants.

At least it will be interesting to see how Trump makes this country great again...or not.


No exception to the rule

Only the rational


In one word: irrelevant. What might be more to the point, the compact, nearly homogeneous and utterly small community.


When oligarchy archconservatives and rich conservatives and neoliberals want to have laws that allow them to loot, rape, steal, cheat and kill liberally, they are called "liberals".



Porfirismo ("Pobre Mexico! Tan lejos de Dios, tan cerca de los Estados Unidos!") was classical liberalism.

Going forward the USA really needs to abandon its weird state of being both totally isolated and arrogantly meddling in everybody's affairs at the same time, and "join the world". It will be welcomed like a prodigal son.

Lets first start with the little stuff first - adopt things like proper world measurement units, proper world abbreviation of dates, proper world standard placement of the driver controls in cars (drives me crazy when I travel for work and have to rent a US-made car), proper world convention of colors for political parties, and especially proper understanding of what liberalism is!


While the internet was developed as the US's Defense Dept's DARPAnet. The www protocol was developed the European (non-military) CERN physics laboratory.


The American Dream?



How would one find a blue deep enough for the repubs?



It's too bad Bobby Kennedy is largely forgotten, having been cut short so early in life because of his threat to the status quo. But it was his vision that so many harkened to, even in Apartheid Africa in 1966. To wit:

"It is these qualities which make of our youth today the only true international community. More than this, I think that we could agree on what kind of a world we would all want to build. It would be a world of independent nations, moving toward international community, each of which protected and respected the basic human freedoms. It would be a world which demanded of each government that it accept its responsibility to insure social justice. It would be a world of constantly accelerating economic progress -- not material welfare as an end in/of itself, but as a means to liberate the capacity of every human being to pursue his talents and to pursue his hopes. It would, in short, be a world that we would all be proud to have built."
~RFK, Day of Affirmation Address, University of Capetown, Capetown, South Africa, June 6, 1966