NEW TO THIS EDITION: A new chapter on civil rights and liberties (chapter 5) introduces students to a comparative look at rights and liberties, so that students can have a more holistic understanding of US politics. A new chapter on constitutional arrangements (chapter 6) introduces students to the uniqueness of the US Constitution, so that students can think more critically about the US Constitution in comparative perspective. An expanded chapter on institutions (chapter 7) provides comparative context to help students understand why legislative and executive branches together makes the most sense. The discussion on elections has been divided into two chapters - one on institutions (chapter 10) and one on behavior (chapter 11) - to make the topic easier to digest for students and easier to cover for instructors. New data around the 2016 general election and the 2018 midterm election offers students the most up-to-date information on elections and encourages students to explore how these elections are a reflection (or not) of American exceptionalism. A new textbox on far right political parties helps students to think critically about how different electoral and institutional arrangements impact how far right politics materializes in practice in various countries. New end of chapter material, including study questions, suggested readings and key words offer students multiple opportunities to further their knowledge of the content. KEY FEATURES: The balanced approach uniquely discusses and provides examples of similarities - as well as differences - between the US and other democracies. American exceptionalism is addressed and its most common definition, of the US as superior, is challenged, pointing out that exceptional only means different. Break-out boxes, attractively displayed empirical examples providing easily accessible data, and end-of-chapter study questions and terms help to reinforce concepts and provide learning aids for students.
Seymour Martin Lipset titled his definitive book on the topic American Exceptionalism: A Double-Edged Sword. In a powerful section of the book, Lipset juxtaposes reasons why he considered American exceptionalism a double-edged sword: “America continues to be qualitatively different. To reiterate, exceptionalism is a two-edged phenomenon: it does not mean better. This country is an outlier. It is the most religious, optimistic, patriotic, rights-oriented, and individualistic.”1 Lipset also noted other consequences of American political beliefs: its work ethic, high worker output and voluntarism, economic productivity, and highly educated and upwardly mobile society. Simultaneously, Lipset weaves in some of the other side of the sword of American exceptionalism—high rates of crime, litigiousness (frequency of Americans suing each other), low voter turnout, enormous ...