Quotations About
America

Reporter: How did you find America?
John: Turn left at Greenland.

Cher: So like, right now for example. The Haitians need to come to America. But some people are all, “What about the strain on our resources?” Well it’s like when I had this garden party for my father’s birthday. I put R.S.V.P. ’cause it was a sit-down dinner. But some people came that like did not R.S.V.P. I was totally buggin’. I had to haul ass to the kitchen, redistribute the food, and squish in extra place settings. But by the end of the day it was, like, the more the merrier. And so if the government could just get to the kitchen and rearrange some things we could certainly party with the Haitians. And in conclusion may I please remind you it does not say R.S.V.P. on the Statue of Liberty! Thank you very much.

Posted in: Clueless

Old elephants limp off to the hills to die; old Americans go out to the highway and drive themselves to death with huge cars.

I like America, just as everybody else does. I love America, I gotta say that. But America will be judged.

on stage, Nov. 26, 1979, in Tempe, Arizona
Posted in: Bob Dylan

The secret point of money and power in America is neither the things that money can buy nor power for power’s sake … but absolute personal freedom, mobility, privacy. It is the instinct which drove America to the Pacific, all through the nineteenth century, the desire to be able to find a restaurant open in case you want a sandwich, to be a free agent, live by one’s own rules.

"7000 Romaine, Los Angeles," Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1967)

Raoul Duke: But our trip was different. It was to be a classic affirmation of everything right and true in the national character. A gross physical salute to the fantastic possibilities of life in this country. But only for those with true grit. And we are chock full of that, man.

The President must be greater than anyone else, but not better than anyone else. We subject him and his family to close and constant scrutiny and denounce them for things that we ourselves do every day. A Presidential slip of the tongue, a slight error in judgment — social, political, or ethical — can raise a storm of protest. We give the President more work than a man can do, more responsibility than a man should take, more pressure than a man can bear. We abuse him often and rarely praise him. We wear him out, use him up, eat him up. And with all this, Americans have a love for the President that goes beyond loyalty or party nationality; he is ours, and we exercise the right to destroy him.

America and Americans (1966)

From the moment, as a boy of seventeen, I first began to pay my own way, my days were ordered by an inscrutable power which drove me hourly to my task. I was rarely allowed to look up or down, but always forward, toward that vague Success which we Americans love to glorify.

Adventures in Contentment

Here also is to be seen in constant whirl the balance-wheel, such as it is, of the most complicated political machine on earth; and here may be best appreciated the working and the value of the constitution.

on Washington, D.C., Travels in the United States in 1846–1847
Posted in: Alexander Mackay

In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.

The Guardian (29 January 1992)
Posted in: Toni Morrison

Whistler: I want peace on earth and good will toward man.
Bernard Abbott: We are the United States Government. We don’t do that sort of thing.

Posted in: Sneakers

Dowager Countess: Good heavens, what am I sitting on?
Matthew: A swivel chair.
Dowager Countess: Another modern brainwave?
Matthew: Not very modern, they were invented by Thomas Jefferson.
Dowager Countess: Why does every day involve a fight with an American?
Matthew: I’ll fetch a different one.
Dowager Countess: No, no, no, no – I’m a good sailor.

Posted in: Downton Abbey

Americans never quit.

reported in The New York Times (August 9, 1928)

This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

Inaugural Address, Jan. 20, 1961

Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

Words from his inaugural address, Jan. 20, 1961

In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.

Inaugural address, Jan. 20, 1981
Posted in: Ronald Reagan

There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.

Inaugural address, Jan. 20, 1993

We have reached a higher degree of comfort and security than ever existed before in the history of the world.

Inaugural address, March 4, 1929
Posted in: Herbert Hoover

We are provincials no longer. The tragic events of the 30 months of vital turmoil through which we have just passed have made us citizens of the world. There can be no turning back.

Inaugural address, March 5, 1917
Posted in: Woodrow Wilson

To do nothing while others are in danger is not the American way.

"A Senate in the Gun Lobby’s Grip", New York Times op-ed, April 17, 2013

Can one imagine that The Bomb could ever be used “in a good cause”? Do not such means instantly, of themselves, corrupt any cause? The bomb is the natural product of the kind of society we have created. It is as easy, normal, and unforced an expression of the American way of Life as electric ice-boxes, banana splits, and hydro-matic drive automobiles.

"Politics" magazine, (August, 1945)
Posted in: Dwight MacDonald

Never believe that technology alone will allow America to prevail as a superpower.

Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World (2002)

McNulty: Let me understand. Every Friday night, you and your boys are shootin crap, right? And every Friday night, your pal Snot Boogie… he’d wait till there’s cash on the ground and he’d grab it and run away? You let him do that?
Kid: We’d catch him and beat his ass but ain’t nobody ever go past that.
McNulty: I’ve gotta ask you: if every time Snot Boogie would grab the money and run away… why’d you even let him in the game?
Kid: What?
McNulty: Well, if every time, Snot Boogie stole the money, why’d you let him play?
Kid: Got to. It’s America, man.

The Target (season 1, episode 1)
Posted in: The Wire

Everyone knows it takes a woman nine months to have a baby. But you Americans think if you get nine women pregnant, you can have a baby in a month.

The Life and Times of Joe Gordon (To the Best of My Recollection) by Joseph G. Martin (2007)