What do all these things have in common?
It all goes back to the age-old question: "who shall rule?" In general, people naturally want power over others, so they justify that quest for power on the basis of some unique attribute they possess.
Dedicated to the proposition that ideas, philosophies, goals, and habits make a person. Your race, color, age, sex and body type may be correlated with how you think; but it's a huge mistake to judge someone on those external, physical markers.
That intellectuals should influence--if not control--the kinds of decisions made in society. More specially, they should promote the transfer of decisions from the masses to those who have 'more intellect'.
The creed of American exceptionalism is distinctive because it is tied closely to the creed of American individualism. There are other societies or people that are adamant believers in their own exceptionalism: The Chinese have their conceit of the Middle Kingdom; the Jews hold that they are Chosen; Hindu Brahmins believe that they alone are born from the head of God; and the Britons have believed that they rule the waves, and that they never, never, never shall be slaves (and what is that if not exceptionalism?). But only the American brand of exceptionalism is not tribal; it allows Outsiders to become Insiders.
American exceptionalism is, paradoxically, all-inclusive, for it encourages salvation through assimilation. I speak, here, of a civic salvation, of a sense of joining a citizenry whose rules are the product of a bold and bracing experiment in perfectibility. This experiment, while yielding a most stirring result in the election of Obama, is as yet far from complete. And still the world watches it--watches it, I should say, with no small amount of awe.
How have intellectuals managed to be so wrong, so often? By thinking that because they are knowledgeable-- or even expert-- within some narrow band out of the vast spectrum of human concerns, that makes them wise guides to the masses and to the rulers of the nation.
You need a coherent rational philosophy.
No. That’s the whole point: currently we have so little scientific knowledge about the human mind and human society that any kind of rationalistic politics is a dangerous pipe dream, because we pretend to know stuff we do not know. This is why we have to rely on common sense, tradition etc. - generally, pattern recognition, as opposed to theoretization.