Mr. Putin you are wrong. America provides the permanent workshop for the self where every individual has the tools to be exceptional. This is why the best and brightest want to immigrate here, because America encourages all people everywhere that they are exceptional.
“It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation,” Putin said in his NYTimes op-ed on President Obama’s speech, hitting at the core difference between Americans and those living under oppressive dictatorships. America’s republic has and always will encourage its citizens to see themselves as exceptional and it is one of our greatest strengths.
America’s government and its institutions are legislated and organized around the belief that we are all created equal. The government exists to help pursue the infinite possibilities of the self that actively encourage its citizens to be exceptional.
Dictators and oppressive fundamentalist religions need to hammer into people that they are not exceptional. This is rule number seven in Animal Farm “All animals are equal.” They need their masses to conform so that individuals do not question and start to believe they have a better solution. As said best by Mr. Orwell, “He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?”
As you stated in your op-ed, Russia and American both believe in equality. To paraphrase Alexis de Tocqueville, the difference is Russia believes that word means equality in restraint and servitude, where in America we seek equality in liberty.
So maybe you are right Mr. Putin, it is extremely dangerous for people to believe they are exceptional… extremely dangerous for a dictator.