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Quotations and Speechwriting Materials Regarding Better Together

Quotations

  • Ann Gerhart and others, reporters: Based on interviews of 102 Americans from across the country:“[W]e are united by a capacity for empathy and flourish when we come together to help each other. . . . [Fifty-nine of the 102 interviewed volunteered that they] value a sense of togetherness built from compassion for others and believe most Americans share that notion.” What Unites Us?, Washington Post, Jan. 17, 2018.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights leader and pastor: “We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.”  Sermon, National Cathedral, Washington, D.C., March 31, 1968.
  • Senator John McCain, conceding the Presidency: “Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.” Concession Speech, November 6, 2008.
  • Letter from interfaith religious leaders to U.S. public officials: “As you know, other houses of worship have also been targeted for unspeakable violence in recent years. . . . The words we use matter greatly, especially the words of our leaders. In 1790, President George Washington wrote a letter to the members of Touro Synagogue, insisting that the government of the United States must give ‘to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance. . . .’ All Americans should be able to ‘sit in safety under [their] own vine[s] and figtree[s],’ with ‘none to make [them] afraid,’ Washington said.  We ask you to uphold these principles. As governmental leaders, you have a special duty to ensure that your words comport with the spirit of the Constitution and help to unify, strengthen and keep Americans safe.” William Aiken et al., April 4, 2019.

Survey results

Polling data appear consistent with broad support among Americans for this articulation of the American Spirit as a common goal for the future. Americans want to come together,[1] although they consider themselves divided about many things.[2] The vast majority favor equal opportunity in many contexts[3] and accept the norm to be inclusion[4] although they are more split on the facts — on how much discrimination persists.[5] In other words, the divisions, and the pain that comes with them,  seems to be accompanied by something brighter — an aspiration toward the goal of inclusion, to use our creativity and “can do” approach to form the “more perfect union” that our Constitution labeled as a process and in formation.  Most value the increasing diversity in our nation; only 9 percent of respondents think the increasing diversity has made things worse.[6]

[1] Karlyn Bowman & Eleanor O’Neil, AEI Political Report –The American Spirit: A Snapshot in Time, American Enterprise Institute (June 29, 2017) (re political differences); Americans Continue to Want Political Leaders to Compromise, Gallup (Sept. 21, 2016)(political compromise).

[2] Alec Tyson,America’s Polarized Views of Trump Follow Years of Growing Political Partisanship, Pew Research Center (Nov. 14, 2018); In Depth: Topics A to Z: Race Relations, Gallup (2019).

[3] Council on Foreign Affairs, U.S. Opinion on Human Rights (Sept. 4, 2009), (“Large majorities in the United States say people of different races and ethnicities should be treated equally, and an overwhelming majority says that employers should not be allowed to discriminate based on race or ethnicity and that it is the government’s responsibility to stop this from happening.”); In Depth: Topics A to Z: Gay and Lesbian Rights, Gallup (2019) (89% in 2008 say gays should have equal job opportunities); Blog, Public Opinion on Civil Rights: Reflections on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Roper Center/Cornell (July 2, 2014) (8 in 10 Americans think that Act has had positive effect); Most Americans Support Equal Pay for Men and Women, Rasmussen Reports (April 13, 2018); Americans Say Business Should Be Open to All and the Government Needs to Do More to Protect LGBTQ Rights, Harris Poll (2018).

[4] Joyce Foundation, American Democracy in Crisis: The Fate of Pluralism in a Divided Nation, March 5, 2019 (86 % said that the American spirit includes “accepting people of diverse racial and religious backgrounds”); Daniel Cox, et al., What it Means to be American: Attitudes towards Increasing Diversity in America Ten Years after 9/11, PRRI (Sept. 06, 2011) (“Even Americans uneasy with diversity accept it in important ways as a norm. . . . The generational patterns discerned in this survey suggest that while we are in for some transitional turbulence on these matters, the arc of American history will, again, bend toward inclusion.”).

[5] Across Racial Lines, More Say Nation Needs to Make Changes to Achieve Racial Equality, Pew Research Center (Aug. 5, 2015); Anna Brown, Key Findings on Americans’ Views of Race in 2019, (April 9, 2019) (plurality believes more should be done to decrease racial discrimination).

[6] Hannah Fingerhut, Most Americans Express Positive Views of Country’s Growing Racial and Ethnic Diversity, FACTANK (June 14, 2018) (58% “say having an increasing number of people of different races, ethnic groups and nationalities in the U.S. makes the country a better place to live; just 9% say it makes the country a worse place to live….”).

An American Spirit — the Report

For the full report, click here.