Full Synopsis

Donald Trump has forged a unique relationship with American exceptionalism, parting ways with how American politicians have long communicated this idea to the American public. Through systematic comparative analyses, this book details the various ways that Trump strategically altered and exploited the discourse of American exceptionalism to elevate not the nation, but himself personally, professionally, and politically. Jason Gilmore and Charles Rowling call this Trump’s Exceptional Me Strategy and they document how it made Trump different from every president in modern American history.

Beginning with the 2016 election, the authors show how Trump broke with tradition and instead of championing American exceptionalism, he actively portrayed the nation as an un-exceptional mess in need of a savior. Placing blame at the feet of politicians-both Democrats and Republicans-for America’s decline, Trump set himself up to be seen as the one person who could “Make America Exceptional Again.” The authors then document how throughout his presidency and the 2020 presidential election Trump sought to convince Americans that he was the exceptional president, making the case at every turn how American exceptionalism had returned under his presidency and that he, and he alone, was to thank for it. Gilmore and Rowling illustrate how from the outset Trump’s conception of American exceptionalism had almost nothing to do with the country’s institutions, ideals, or its people. It was only ever about him.

Available at Bloomsbury and Amazon
Published March 11, 2021


“Exceptional Me is academic research at its best–rigorous, relevant, readable. Gilmore and Rowling’s expansive and detailed analysis demonstrates just how uncommon Donald Trump’s discourse about American exceptionalism has been. These pages lay bare what a Narcissist-in-Chief sounds like and how inconsistent with the American presidency that sound is.”

Kevin Coe, coauthor of The Ubiquitous Presidency and The God Strategy

Exceptional Me is an outstanding addition to the literature on American Exceptionalism. Gilmore and Rowling’s research is provocative and insightful. If you want to understand the presidency of Donald Trump and how he modified American Exceptionalism for our current era then this book is a must-read.”

Jason A. Edwards, Bridgewater State University, co-editor of The Rhetoric of American Exceptionalism

Selected Publications

Refereed Journal Articles

Gilmore, J., Rowling, C.M., Edwards, J.A., and Allen, N.T. (2020). Exceptional ‘we’ or exceptional ‘me’?: Donald Trump, American exceptionalism and the remaking of the modern jeremiad. Presidential Studies Quarterly.​

Gilmore, J. and Rowling, C.M. (2019). Partisan patriotism in the American presidency: American exceptionalism, issue ownership, and the age of Trump. Mass Communication and Society,  22(3), 389-416.

Dengah II, H., Gilmore, J., Brasileiro, M., Cohen, A., Thomas, E., Budge, J., Law, M., Swainston, J., and Thomas, R. (2019). Cultural models of raça: The calculus of Brazilian racial identity revisited. Journal of Anthropological Research, 75(2), 157-182.

Gilmore, J. and Rowling, C.M. (2018). Lighting the beacon: Presidential discourse, American exceptionalism, and public diplomacy in global contexts. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 48 (2), 271-291.

Rowling, C. M., Sheets, P., McCue, P., and Gilmore, J. (2018). Consensus at home, opposition abroad: Officials, foreign sources, and US news coverage of drone warfare. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 95(4), 886-908.

Gilmore, J., and Rowling, C.M. (2017). A post-American world? Assessing the cognitive and attitudinal impacts of challenges to American exceptionalism. The Communication Review, 21 (1), 46-65.

Gilmore, J. and Rowling, C. M. (2017). The United States in Decline?: Assessing the impacts of international challenges to American exceptionalismInternational Journal of Communication, 11 (21), 137-157.

Gilmore, J., Sheets, P., and Rowling, C. M. (2016). Make no exception, save one: American exceptionalism and its culmination in the age of Obama. Communication Monographs. 83 (4), 505-520.

Rowling, C. M., Gilmore, J., and Sheets, P. (2015). When threats are internal: Cascading frames, national identity, and the U.S. war in Afghanistan. International Journal of Press/Politics, 20 (4), 478-497.

Gilmore, J. (2015). American exceptionalism in the American mind: Presidential discourse, national identity and U.S. public opinion. Communication Studies, 66(3), 301-320 (Selected as the 2016 Communication Studies Article of the Year presented by the Central States Communication Association).

Gilmore, J. (2014). Translating American exceptionalism: Presidential discourse about the United States in comparative perspectiveInternational Journal of Communication, 9, 22.

Gilmore, J., Meeks, L. & Domke, D. (2013). Why do (we think) they hate us?: National identity, news content and attributions of blameInternational Journal of Communication, 7, 21.

Gilmore, J. (2012). Ditching the pack: Digital media in the 2010 Brazilian congressional campaigns. New Media and Society, 14(4), 617-633.

Book Chapters

Gilmore, J., & Howard, P. N. (2014). Digital media use and sophistication in the 2010 national elections in Brazil, in B. Grofman and A. Treschel, The Internet and Democracy in Global Perspective: Voters, Candidates, Parties, and Social Movements, Springer-Verlag.

Gastil, J., Knobloch, K., and Gilmore, J. (2017). The internal dynamics and sociopolitical power of public deliberation in groups. In K. Kenski and K. Hall Jamieson (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Political Communication, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.