What Do Eric Metaxas and Hillary Clinton Have in Common?


They both believe that America is a “shining city on a hill.”

Some of you may remember that I questioned the way Eric Metaxas used this phrase in his book If You Can Keep It.  You can read the criticism here.

Now it is Hillary Clinton who is playing the “city on a hill” and American exceptionalism card.  Granted, Clinton’s “city on a hill” is not as overly providential at Metaxas’s use of the term, but the rhetoric of American exceptionalism is similar.

Here is Ryan Teague Beckwith’s piece at Time on Clinton’s use of this language:

In her address, she also heartily endorsed the concept of American exceptionalism, going even further to call America “indispensable” and citing two Republican presidents in her speech to the American Legion.

“The United States is an exceptional nation,” she said. “I believe we are still Lincoln’s last, best hope of Earth. We’re still Reagan’s shining city on a hill. We’re still Robert Kennedy’s great, unselfish, compassionate country. … In fact, we are the indispensable nation.”

It was an argument aimed squarely at the veterans of an organization that lists “Americanism” as one of its central pillars. But it was also a way of turning one of the Republican lines against Obama back against the party’s own nominee.

Read the entire piece here.Metaxas

This may be the first time a Democratic candidate has the phrase “city on a hill” since John Kennedy in 1961.

On why the use of this phrase is problematic as a way to describe American exceptionalism, click here.

Thanks to longtime reader and commentator Tom Van Dyke for bringing this article to my attention.


3 thoughts on “What Do Eric Metaxas and Hillary Clinton Have in Common?

  1. Professor Fea – I’d like to hear your “take” as a historian on the mindset of “American exceptionalism.”
    Whether it’s invoked in a more religious or more secular context, it seems to be such a self-deluding ahistorical concept. I think Edmund Burke nailed it (referring of course to Great Britain) with, “I dread our own power and our own ambition. I dread our being too much dreaded. It is ridiculous to say we are not men, and that, as men, we shall never wish to aggrandize ourselves.”


  2. Clinton’s “city on a hill” is not as overly providential at Metaxas’s use of the term

    Yes, no theocracy worries with Hillary, I think. The game within the game is far more subtle than shooting Bartons in a barrel.

    Clinton Faux Pas: National Motto Is “In God We Trust” Not E Pluribus Unum


    Clinton’s error is no matter to be taken lightly because there has been a significant movement in recent years, mostly coming from the Progressive camp, that’s trying to remove God from every part of public life. You might call it a new revolution — a revolt against America’s Christian heritage — one based on anti-biblical values — one that indicts religious traditionalism as the oppressor of people’s rights.

    Presidential candidate Clinton often speaks affectionately about the positive influences of her Methodist background. Yet she is the same woman who said at the 2015 Women in the World Summit: “Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”

    These words sound more like someone prepared to lead an insurgency that will intimidate, litigate, and use the power of the state to marginalize the expression or influence of a conventional Christian worldview in the national life.

    In 2010 as President of the United States, Obama also incorrectly identified “E Pluribus Unum” as the National Motto. When congressional members sought to clarify our real National Motto via a resolution, the President just dismissed the matter as a politically motivated distraction from the more important work of building the economy.

    This one didn’t seem to have the news traction that say, a Sarah Palin or Eric Metaxas history muckup does, which I find the more interesting part. Thx for the HT.


Comments are closed.