In a speech on the Syria crisis on September 10, 2013, Obama said that "however, when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our kids safer over the long run, I believe we should act.... That is what makes America different. That is what makes us exceptional."
In a direct response the next day, Russian President Vladimir Putin published an op-ed in The New York Times, articulating, "It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation.... We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal."
Putin's views were soon endorsed by future President Donald Trump, who declared the op-ed "a masterpiece." "You think of the term as being beautiful, but all of sudden you say, what if you're in Germany or Japan or any one of 100 countries? You are not going to like that term," Trump said. "It is very insulting, and Putin put it to him about that."
Some left-wing American commentators agree with Trump's stance; one example is Sherle Schwenninger, a co-founder of the New America Foundation, who in a 2016 Nation magazine symposium remarked, "Trump would redefine American exceptionalism by bringing an end to the neoliberal/neoconservative globalist project that Hillary Clinton and many Republicans support." However, Trump has also advocated an "America First" policy, emphasizing American nationalism and unilateralism, though with a greater emphasis on non-interventionism.
American exceptionalism has been a plank of the Republican party platform since 2012. The platform adopted in 2016 defines it as "the notion that our ideas and principles as a nation give us a unique place of moral leadership" and affirms that the U.S. therefore must "retake its natural position as leader of the free world."
The term was adopted by former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney in his 2015 book Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America.