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Authors

Nancy H. Rogers

Abstract

Historian David McCullough tells those discouraged about the nation’s current problems that Americans have an “inexhaustible source of strength”: “our story, our history, who we are, how we got to where we are, … all we have been through, what we have achieved” and our “national ambitions.” McCullough calls this the “American spirit” and urges Americans to articulate a current version. Some might express pessimism about this project – after all, one poll indicates that most Americans think we are losing an American spirit. Other commentators agree with McCullough, though, that Americans should endeavor to identify an American spirit that will be widely and deeply embraced. In their view, current versions of an American spirit might focus Americans on solving some of their problems despite seemingly intractable differences (called here “polarization”). This Article suggests some considerations to weigh when identifying an American spirit and a process for going about it.

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