America Should Lower Its Expectations

Triumphalism Has Made Us Reckless. Can Making Peace With Our Shortcomings Save Us?

I get how hard it is to admit defeat, to lower expectations. Even when things are breaking down in every part of the national machine, from public health to education to foreign policy to law enforcement, it’s hard to let go of the easy triumphalism that has characterized so much of American life.

Triumphalism is a domineering mentality that took off when the U.S. became a superpower in the mid-20th century. A byproduct of the old American exceptionalism—the belief that the U.S. is unique and even divinely blessed to lead humanity …

Why John Quincy Adams Was the Founder of American Expansionism

An Ardent Believer in National Greatness, the Sixth President Thought America Should Dominate the Hemisphere

As the son of John Adams, John Quincy knew most of the other Founders, including George Washington, and he had an abiding belief in the virtue of their handiwork. Declaring …

Why Won’t America Go Metric?

Our Centuries-Long Ambivalence About Meters and Liters Mirrors Our Ambivalence About Our Place in the World

We Americans measure things our own way. Our yardsticks are marked in feet and inches (and eighths of inches), measures that are unfathomable to foreigners, nearly all of whom have …