Translating American Exceptionalism: Comparing Presidential Discourse About the United States at Home and Abroad

Jason Gilmore


This study provides a comparative perspective on the ways U.S. presidents have communicated the idea of American exceptionalism for American and international audiences. I argue that U.S. presidents strategically highlight this culturally potent idea in both domestic and international speeches, but in different ways. To examine these dynamics, I content-analyzed presidential speeches delivered in domestic and foreign contexts since 1933. The study provides comparative perspectives on (a) how themes of American Exceptionalism have been used in domestic versus international speeches and (b) how U.S. presidents seek out diplomatic ways to “translate” American exceptionalism to communicate this potent national idea to foreign audiences.


presidential discourse, American exceptionalism, international relations, public diplomacy

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