(AlterNet) -- The term “American exceptionalism” is often tossed around by politicians. Neocons, far-right Christian fundamentalists and members of the Republican Party in particular seem to hate it when anyone dares to suggest that some aspects of European life are superior to how we do things. But facts are facts, and the reality is that in some respects, Europe is way ahead of the United States. From health care to civil liberties to sexual attitudes, one can make a strong case for “European exceptionalism.” That is not to say that Europe isn’t confronting some major challenges in 2014: neoliberal economic policies and brutal austerity measures are causing considerable misery in Greece, Spain and other countries. The unemployment rate in Spain, the fourth largest economy in the Eurozone, stands at a troubling 26%—although Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and Iceland have lower unemployment rates than the U.S. (5.1% in Germany, 3.1.% in Switzerland, 4.6% in Iceland, 4.2% in Denmark). But problems and all, Europe continues to be one of the most desirable parts of the world. And the U.S.—a country that is in serious decline both economically and in terms of civil liberties—needs to take a close look at some of the things that European countries are doing right.
Below are ten examples of “European exceptionalism” and areas in which Europe is way ahead of the United States.