Is America still 'a light to the world'?Does America still try to provide the world with a shining example of the best possible society?
Second the bully comment. I think we greatly overrate ourselves. Honestly, if any other country ran a national election the way we ran ours in 2000, we would have been sending in observers to help them do it correctly. We are painfully narrow, and we are very far behind many other countries in education, social programs, environmental advocacy, medical care, and many other things. We pretend that women have more freedom here than in other countries, but we have never had a female president or VP, our government continually attempts to interfere with women's reproductive rights, and there is still a "mommy track" and a glass ceiling.
I think we do. I think we do not always do it in an effective way, but we clearly do try to do this. In a sense, you could say that we try to do this more than ever. For a long time, during the Cold War, we had a more "realist" approach to international relations. Our actions were based much more on power considerations than on moral ones. Nowadays, we often act on moral grounds, trying to protect people who really don't matter to us in material terms.
We still think our way is the best and we still try to act as an example to everyone else. That doesn't mean everyone is "buying it," though.
I agree with the above post that America "tries" to provide the best example of how a democratic nation should best work. However, the way we often try to shove our beliefs down the throats of other nations does not always endear ourselves to others. Our quickness to react militarily in areas far from our shores has created many enemies, and while the USA is still a place where many people around the world would love to live, our worldwide respect has diminished, and we are regarded as bullies by many.
I think that America still has its challenges, but we are struggling with them. We are facing growing pains right now. Our government is close to shutdown because the Congress cannot agree how to fund the government. I hope we will be a shining example of how to overcome problems like this.