American identity

Amplified: Obama and Uncomfortable Progress on Who We Are

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It’s not surprising that it was Obama’s take on Trump that made the headlines from a much more extensive interview with NPR’s Steve Innskeep. There’s a question that appears to be stuck on repeat today, a question of “national identity, who we are.” That was Innskeep’s proposition but Obama’s answer suggests this question has nagged us since the beginning. Recognizing these persistent questions and the moments when we start changing our answers is an important act of citizenship. The “Amplified Treatment” of the text below is intended to focus on the most substantive and timeless pieces of Obama’s response to Innskeep’s question…

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A Theory of American Identity: Or the Radical American Exceptionalism: Or Why Baseball is Better than Soccer?

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An abstract submitted for you consideration. Your questions and assistance in refining the ideas presented here would be greatly appreciated. (Submitted by Todd, National Academy alumni, 2001) Over the last year I have been contemplating the notion of American identity, and what that means.  As I contemplated the bounds of this notion, I began formulating a rather extreme form of American exceptionalism.    I see no way to avoid getting there, so I ask that Politicolor readers will help dispel it or create a more construct for this idea. I begin with a basic premise that the American founding experience is…

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Six Word Motto for U.S.

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Longing for a fond memories of a National Academy now buried deeply in your memory banks of a time and place too far away? This NY Times contest reminded me of Academy favorites like proposing a new creed or remaking our national currency. Inspired by this collection of six-word memoirs, the Freakonomics guys at NY Times asked readers to propose a six-word motto for the U.S. As the foremost experts in reducing, extending, and exercising another thousand ways to rewrite text, I know you’re up for the challenge. Why not have our own version of this contest…What six words would…

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Deep Light

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On the way home from the store tonight, I listened for the first time to Van Morrison’s rendition (with the Chieftains) of the 19th century folk song Shenandoah.Like many other things the past three weeks, it reminded me of the Academy. From a purely cognitive standpoint, the Academy was immensely satisfying, and I will transfer a great deal of its content into my 12 sections (seriously!) of U.S. Government this year. But it is my heart that has changed more than anything. It would be hard to describe what I mean by this, so I won’t (at least not with…

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