In his UN speech on September 23, 2013, Barack Obama claimed that "America is exceptional". It is the beacon lighting the world. Indeed, it is exceptional. Judge for yourself. The United States:
invaded Iraq on a hoax,
incarcerated innocents at Guantanamo,
destroyed Libya for humanitarian reasons,
uses drones, killing innocent peoples,
has a defense budget nearly equal to the rest of the world's budgets but still regards Russia, China and Iran as a threat to its safety,
believes disputes can only be resolved through military actions ("Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran"),
let policemen go free after committing a crime (e.g. Ferguson, Cleveland, Staten Island),
What's irksome is that the United States wants us to believe it does these things in the name of freedom. It wants us to believe it is fighting for freedom in Ukraine while removing a democratically elected president. It's not freedom the United States is fighting for, it's world hegemony. The United States is an empire. Empire and freedom do not mesh. Ask Thomas Jefferson, Giuseppe Garibaldi and Mohandas Gandhi. Ask Edward Snowdown, Julian Assange and Bradley Manning. How can we trust the United States after the 9/11 lie, the anthrax/Colin Powell UN lie, the JFK lie, and many others? Shouldn't a Nobel Peace Prize recipient tell the truth?
Democracy rests on the rule of law, freedom of the press and a vibrant middle class. The Patriot Act and other measures replace the rule of law. Large corporations control the media choking freedom of the press. The middle class is vanishing. The "1%" and "0.1%" now rule the country thanks in part to recent Supreme Court's decisions (Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission).
The sad thing is that at the moment and for the foreseeable future, no one, no leader, no organized group exists to bring back these truths we hold "to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." A nation living by these truths would indeed be exceptional. Today, America is not.
P.S. The above is not to say Europeans are blameless. British exactions in the colonies are well documented. The French killed 100,000 compatriots in the Vendee war during the Revolution. The Germans outdid them both with the "Final solution". All nations are guilty of crimes to a degree or another. Similarly, racism is not an American plague. Racism is universal.