American Exceptionalism


Most Americans subscribe to the idea of American Exceptionalism, under which (1) the United States is the freest country in the world, and (2) it owes its freedom to the Framer’s Constitution, with its presidential form of government and separation of powers. All of this is a fiction. The Framers’ Constitution was one of Congressional government more than of separation of powers, and presidential government is associated with less, not more, political liberty. To show this, I report on an empirical study of presidential versus parliamentary regimes as determinants of Freedom House’s rankings of political freedom. I also respond to José Cheibub’s argument that the greater political freedom of parliamentary regimes can be attributed to the cycling of presidential and military regimes in Latin America. I show that this can be explained by the greater military spending of presidential regimes.