The Nation: American Exceptionalism in Our Time
Chapter Five scrutinizes Barack Obama’s economic mobility speech (2013) as a paradigmatic statement on how the American government treats this topic. Openly admitting that half the population has experienced poverty, President Obama alerts his audience to the detrimental impact this has on the nation as a whole. Inequality causes suffering, but it also undermines the ideological foundation of the United States, most notably its identity as an exceptional and superior nation. A brief discussion of Pope Francis’ exhortations on inequality and Thomas Piketty’s media success situates Obama’s stance, which is determined by the limits of both public diplomacy and lobbying. Lemke reads Obama’s speech, which publicly acknowledges the threat precariousness poses to the common good, as a precarious text in itself.