Quotations and Speechwriting Materials Regarding a “Can Do” Approach


  • Columnist David Brooks: “We’re still a young country. The times may be discouraging, but the full strength of American democracy is still waiting to be born.” What Holds American Together, New York Times, March 19, 2018.
  • French diplomat Alexis de Tocqueville, after visiting the nation a half century after its founding: “[T]he greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.” Democracy in America (1835-40).
  • Columnist William Choslovsky, speaking about a merchant he met while purchasing souvenirs elsewhere in the world, pointed out, “The old, haggard man said, ‘Why do you Americans complain about your government? It is actually your government. You own it. You can change it. We can’t do that here.’ Our democracy is hardly perfect, but it was never intended to be. What makes it unique—and enduring —is that it was set up with the ability to adapt, to change. No coups or revolutions required.” We the People Have a Democracy to CelebrateChicago Tribune, July 4, 2107.

Survey Results

Americans stand out among developed nations for their positive attitudes and optimism,[1]  and majorities of persons from varied racial and ethnic groups believe that Americans can solve problems together.[2]

[1]Zack Beauchampt, This Chart Shows One Way Americans Really Stand Out: Their Positive Attitudes, Vox (March 14, 2015).

[2]  Joyce Foundation, American Democracy in Crisis: The Fate of Pluralism in a Divided Nation, March 5, 2019 (“Overall, most Americans are optimistic about the country’s ability to come together across racial divides. Two-thirds (66%) of Americans say they feel optimistic that people who belong to different racial and ethnic groups can still come together and solve the country’s problems, while 30% say they feel pessimistic that Americans can do this now. Strikingly, there are few differences across racial and ethnic groups on this question: strong majorities of white (69%), Hispanic (64%), and black (61%) Americans all say they feel optimistic about the prospect of Americans of different races and ethnicities coming together to solve the country’s problems.”).

An American Spirit — the Report

For the full report, click here.