A reader notes:
That's an Obama theme worth exploring. America was in fact always intended as a universalistic project--the implementation of principles of universal validity, not the formation of a new quasi-ethnic identity. Our founders were men of the Enlightenment, which is perhaps more than anything the project of discovering and applying universal principles and using these to replace superstition, prejudice and sentiment, of which ethno-centrism is a noteworthy example.
Perhaps our greatest figure was Emerson, who praised the Represenative Man over the Great Man. If Obama is a universailist figure, he is not a departure for this country, but a return to its best principles.