Constitution Center test: State a point in 6 words

August 25, 2012 11:04:06 AM PDT
State your case in six words.

That's the challenge from the National Constitution Center as part of a new civic engagement program. To put it less succinctly: If you had six words to express your thoughts on America's priorities should be, what would you say?

Some of the best-known presidential declarations consist of a half-dozen words. There's "Read my lips: no new taxes" (George H.W. Bush); "The old ways will not do" (John F. Kennedy); "Time has come for honest government" (Richard Nixon); "Restore America to its own people" (Franklin D. Roosevelt).

Now, it's your turn.

"We're trying to come up with a more engaging and accessible way for people to get in touch with this election," said Alison Young, the center's vice president for civic engagement, "something beyond the campaign commercials and literature."

The Constitution Center embarked on the project with Smith, an online magazine devoted to storytelling and the creator of the popular Six-Word Memoir series. People can submit their six words, either written or on video, to the Constitution Center's website. More than 20,000 entries have been received so far.

Recent online submissions include "Govern for people, not the party," ''When will we the people learn," ''True liberty is born from hope" and "Hate and fear are not policy." Others touch on subjects from the Second Amendment and the economy to immigration and education.

"The majority of entries are positive: 'We're for this,' 'We want this," 'Let's be about this,' while the political rhetoric is so negative," Young said. "It shows us that Americans are more positive than our elected officials give us credit for."

The six-word campaign speech challenge is part of the center's project for the current election year called Address America. It continues through Oct. 29, when the center will host writers, performers and community members delivering their own six words and describing the process that got them there.


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