'America is indispensable—and exceptional—because of our values'
There’s always been something special about the United States of America. President Abraham Lincoln called us the “last, best hope of earth.” President Ronald Reagan said we are a “shining city on a hill.” And Robert Kennedy called us a great, unselfish, compassionate country.
I couldn’t agree more.
If there’s one core belief that has guided and inspired me every step of my career in public service, it’s this: the U.S. is an exceptional nation. And when you add up all our advantages, it’s clear we’re indispensable too—a nation all others look to for leadership.
America is indispensable in part because we have the greatest military in history, with the best troops, training and technology. And it’s essential we do everything we can to support our men and women in uniform, and our veterans.
America is also indispensable because of our network of alliances, built up with decades of diplomacy. Russia and China can’t begin to compare. Our allies amplify our power, aid our defense and stand with us in good times and bad, like when NATO declared 9/11 to be an attack against all its members. Walking away from our alliances now would be a dangerous mistake.
America is indispensable because we have the largest, most dynamic economy in the world. Our workers can outinnovate and outcompete anyone in the world. And our entrepreneurs start exciting new businesses every day.
Most of all, America is indispensable—and exceptional—because of our values. As Secretary of State, I was proud to represent our country’s commitment to freedom, equality and opportunity. The world looks to us to stand up for human rights, LGBT rights, religious and ethnic minorities, women, people with disabilities and people everywhere who yearn for peace. We challenge ourselves and other nations to do better. It’s why so many people from around the world want to become Americans too.
But with all of these advantages comes responsibility—we need to continue leading the world. Because when America fails to lead, we leave a vacuum that lets extremism take root, emboldens our adversaries and discourages our friends.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that people from other places don’t also feel deep national pride—and other countries also have a responsibility to step up and help solve global problems. But America has an unparalleled ability to be a force for peace, progress and prosperity around the world. And when we do, we make our own country safer and stronger.
So let’s never stop doing good and being great. Let’s keep America exceptional.
Clinton is a former Secretary of State and the Democratic Party nominee for President.
TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary on events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of TIME editors.