We all know the story of the slim, constitutional lawyer with a Kenyan father. He strides confidently, smiles broadly and is perfectly willing to explain the profound divisions in this country that put Donald Trump in the White House.
This is not that story. Rather, I’m sitting outside an office at Stanford University, waiting to speak with a man who shares a similar path to Barack Obama, law fellow Mugambi Jouet. Much like the previous president, Jouet spent a good deal of his youth in another country—Obama in Indonesia, Jouet in France—which provided a cultural immersion that deepened and broadened both men’s perspectives on America.
Jouett’s book painstakingly attempts to answer a question on the minds of people from Pasadena to Pittsburgh to Paris: WTF is happening to America?
“Most people tend to think American exceptionalism means a faith in American superiority, the notion that the country is exceptional in the sense of ‘wonderful’ or ‘outstanding’ or ‘phenomenal,’” Jouet says. “But historically, American exceptionalism has mainly meant something else, which is that America is an exception objectively and descriptively, especially when compared to other Western democracies.”Read More