American Exceptionalism

F. H. Buckley

George Mason University School of Law

February 5, 2013

George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 13-09

Most Americans subscribe to the idea of American Exceptionalism, under which (1) the United States is the freest country in the world, and (2) it owes its freedom to the Framer’s Constitution, with its presidential form of government and separation of powers. All of this is a fiction. The Framers’ Constitution was one of Congressional government more than of separation of powers, and presidential government is associated with less, not more, political liberty. To show this, I report on an empirical study of presidential versus parliamentary regimes as determinants of Freedom House’s rankings of political freedom. I also respond to José Cheibub’s argument that the greater political freedom of parliamentary regimes can be attributed to the cycling of presidential and military regimes in Latin America. I show that this can be explained by the greater military spending of presidential regimes.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 32

Keywords: Australia, Benjamin Constant, Canada, Clinton Rossiter, Commons, Congress, Constitutional Convention, democracy, Economist Intelligence Unit, elected, Founding Fathers, George Washington, Heritage Foundation, House Representatives, index, prime minister, Senators, state legislatures, Walter Bagehot

JEL Classification: H11, H51, H52, H53, H54, H55, H56, H57, H77, H81, H82, I18, I28, L98, N41, N42, O38, Q28, Q38, Q48

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Date posted: February 5, 2013  

Suggested Citation

Buckley, F. H., American Exceptionalism (February 5, 2013). George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 13-09. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2212202 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2212202

Contact Information

Francis (Frank) H. Buckley (Contact Author)
George Mason University School of Law ( email )
3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States
703-993-8028 (Phone)
703-993-8088 (Fax)
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