Episode 87 – E Pluribus Unum with Avi Woolf
What is America and what does it mean to be an American? We Americans have been debating this question for centuries, yet we seem even less united on a common understanding than Americans of prior generations.
America’s original national motto was E Pluribus Unum: “Out of many, one”. It contained the notion that this diverse country of ethnicities and religions and ideologies were somehow unified in some sense. In 1956, our national motto changed to “In God We Trust”. Yet this was no less of a statement on American unity. In 1956 the Cold War was raging, and the government of the United States sought to distinguish itself from the atheistic Soviet Union. Trusting in God was simply what it meant to be an American.
And yet no one can deny that there are plenty of Americans who would not claim to believe, let alone trust, in God. And the idea that the best way to describe ourselves in light of our current political divides is “Out of many, one” seems downright laughable.
Why is it so hard to come to a common agreement on what it means to be an American? What ideas have been tried in the past? Why did they fail and to what extent were they ever successful? How important is it that we reach some kind of consensus? Joining Saving Elephants host Josh Lewis to discuss these questions and more is returning guest Avi Woolf.
About Avi Woolf
Avi Woolf is a writer, editor, translator, and podcaster whose work has been published in Arc Digital, Commentary, National Review, The Bulwark, and The Dispatch. He is chief editor of the online Medium publication Conservative Pathways, and he—in his words—"hopes to help forge a path for a conservatism which is relevant for the 21st century while not abandoning the best of past wisdom.”
Avi has been a guest on the show in two previous episodes as well: the first in which he explored the need for conservatism to find a way to appeal to people who live in urban areas in Episode 26 – Urban Conservatism and the second in which he mulled over the love/hate relationship the Right has long had with institutions of higher education in Episode 49 – God and the Speechless at Yale.
Avi hosts his own podcast entitled Avi’s Conversational Corner, a podcast on culture, history, and politics in a broad perspective. You can find Avi on Twitter @AviWoolf