This is a common right-wing meme, contending that Democrats do not brag enough about how powerful and wonderful a nation we are.
Santorum was referring to self-reliance in these comments, hammering programs like Medicare that have helped millions of people receive good health care in their later years. However, history shows that over the past century, Democrats -- not the other party -- have consistently displayed the greatness of America.
While Republicans pontificate about how exceptional America is, Democrats have actually made the country exceptional. This is not just a matter of semantics. Exceptional means "making a country better" than others, "improving" the country, and we have been doing that throughout the history of the republic.
As a means of contrast, if you look at history, name one policy that the Republicans have supported that shows how exceptional America is.
For example, take the issue of how Democrats led the quest for the U.S. to reach the moon. Republicans complained about how American public education was the reason that the Soviets were able to release Sputnik, the first satellite in 1957, during Dwight D. Eisenhower's administration. Despite the challenge of falling behind, President John F. Kennedy boldly predicted after he took office in 1961 that America would be the first country to land on the moon. He exhorted the country to defeat the Soviets in that quest.
Because of JFK and then LBJ, we accomplished it.
The U.S. was in second place at that stage, but in 1969, six years after Kennedy's assassination, and eight years after JFK made that pledge, astronaut Neil Armstrong took those famous first steps on the moon. That, Mr. Santorum, is how Democrats have led America to be an exceptional country. We do not need to brag about it; we just lead the effort.
Just look at what the Democrats have accomplished in the past century on the national security front.
Wars and National Security
The leadership of Democrats has led America to victory in the two major wars -- Woodrow Wilson in WWI and Franklin Delano Roosevelt in WWII. Coincidentally, both of those leaders were liberals. In addition, a Democrat led the greatest victory of the Cold War, The Cuban Missile Crisis, one in which President John F. Kennedy forced the Soviet Union to dismantle the missiles in Cuba. That led to the fall of Premier Nikita Khrushchev, and it created a significant crack in the Iron Curtain. That fissure led to the Iron Curtain falling decades later.
A recent victory by Democrats is one that Republicans like Santorum simply despise. In the war against al Qaeda in the 21st Century, while one American president claimed that America would track down the perpetrator of the attacks, Osama bin Laden, "dead or alive," the administration of President Barack Obama quietly focused on clues and finally killed bin Laden.
In fact, since Obama refocused the mission, the U.S. and its allies have also taken down some of the top al Queda leaders like Fazul Abdullah Mohammed and Ilyas Kashmiri.
Look at the abysmal record of the Republican Party. What have they actually won? They may argue the first Gulf War, but if that was a victory, why did the son attack the same country that his father refused to bring down more than a decade before the Iraq War?
In fact, the Iraq War has wounded America in many ways, including economically, with a cost of more than a trillion dollars. This war, one of choice, has been the greatest embarrassment in American history.
Republicans start wars, Democrats win them.