Don’t let the noise fool you. As Americans, we agree on more things than you might think.
My fellow Americans, I am writing here to tell you something that perhaps people don’t want to admit. Something so outlandish and contrary to the current narrative in our country that it might seem like it couldn’t be true. Something that the politicians and perhaps some media don’t really want us to realize. That we, as Americans, have a lot more in common than we think.
Right before the 2020 election, at a time that we seemed witheringly polarized as a populace, a Harvard University study found that 71% of Americans “have more in common with each other than many people think.”
That’s a pretty large majority, but now consider this. One of the key questions of the study was asking Americans about what they deem are “essential rights important to being an American today.” More than 93% of respondents — across all political affiliations — agreed on the following as being essential rights: voting, equal protection, free speech, equal opportunity, privacy and racial equality.
Even on the touchy issues, things like the right to bear arms and LGBTQ rights, bipartisan majorities agreed on those as being essential rights, to the tune of about 70%.
Let’s be honest: It benefits certain groups to divide us. That is, after all, how they win. They are asking us to choose one candidate over another, one channel over another, one ideology over another. But when it comes down to it, we might agree on way more than on which we disagree.
In psychology, one tool to help people experience gratitude is to ask them to focus on what’s going right rather than on what’s going wrong. Just this simple reframing can help us enjoy our lives more, feel more satisfied and give us a better outlook on the future.
As we planned this section, we wondered: If it works for individuals, why wouldn’t it work for us as a country?
In the spirit of finding common ground, we sought things we can celebrate about America. Things we all have in common. And guess what? We had way more than 15.
That, to me, was good news. It means that as a country, much like a family, we share a lot of DNA.
So the next time people try to focus on how we’ve never been more divided, try to remember the things we have in common.
Turns out, there are a lot of them.
The Observer's 15 reasons to love America:
- Wide-open spaces. From deserts and mountains to forests and beaches, when it comes to a variety of landscapes, climates and breathtaking features, "America the Beautiful" got it right: We've got just about everything you could want to see in our 50 states. Close to home, our wide-open spaces usually revolve around water. Here are a few places within a short drive where Old Florida has been preserved, with every inch packed of wildlife to enjoy. Read more.
- Our national anthem. Ever hear other nations’ anthems? Yep — booorrring. Not only is our anthem spirited (sort of like us), but it has been performed in every style out there. Three singers explain what it takes to do it justice. Read more.
- Honoring veterans. It’s easy to take it for granted as Americans, but we celebrate several holidays to remind ourselves: Freedom isn’t free. From wreath laying to taps ceremonies, our traditions ensure we never forget to thank those who sacrificed for our country. One local in particular makes sure he does his part to keep these traditions alive. Read more.
- Cars. With nearly 47,000 miles of interstate highway in this glorious country of ours, it's no wonder we have a love affair with our vehicles. At a recent car event, we tune into what we love so much about our four-wheeled rides. Read more.
- Rocking out. As many of our more musically inclined Americans have proven: There's nothing better about freedom than singing about it. Read more.
- The bald eagle. As anyone who has seen one of these beauties in person can attest, it’s hard to imagine a better symbol of strength and freedom. Luckily, we have an abundance of them, so we talked to a few aviary enthusiasts on what makes them so special. Read more.
- Beer. Just because we didn’t come up with the idea doesn’t stop Americans from taking something and making it uniquely ours. Like beer. So crack open a cold one and dive into the debate: big brews vs. craft concoctions. Read more.
- Mavericks. They zig when others zag. They see not what is, but what could be. We’re talking about mavericks. No, not the "Top Gun" kind (though we love them as well). The trailblazing kind. Here are a just a handful of the mavericks who helped make our area great. Can you name them?
- Jazz. Unlike many things in America, this one started here. Sarasota is home to its own following of this original musical genre, which has proved a lasting homage to our country’s history of hardship and hope. Read more.
- The American dream. We’re all familiar with the phrase "the American dream." But what that looks like depends on the person. For immigrants, it’s an especially poignant ideology. East County's Sanddy Marchena and Sarasota's Dragos Alexandru share their stories and what it means to them.
- Football. Yes, we are well aware that baseball is America’s pastime. But when it comes to sports, we are obsessed with the pigskin. Explore how this rough-and-tumble sport has grown to dominate our sports landscape — and all our fall weekends. Read more.
- History. Admittedly, we’re just babies relative to the legacies of other countries. But history — even a short one — is crucial to understanding our community. The following landmarks help connect us to the past. Read more.
- Apple pie. "As American as apple pie." Need we say more? Apple pie has been a symbol of American prosperity since the early 1900s. Local superstar pie makers share their secrets on making the perfect one. Read more.
- Our flag. Old Glory is a distinctive and beautiful representation of our pride. So much so that we like to plaster it everywhere.
- Freedom. Because without freedom, none of these other things matter. Happy Independence Day.
Join the Neighborhood! Our 100% local content helps strengthen our communities by delivering news and information that is relevant to our readers. Support independent local journalism by joining the Observer's new membership program — The Newsies — a group of like-minded community citizens, like you. Be a Newsie.