The Phrases

State of the Button phrases explained.

E PLURIBUS UNUM

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E Pluribus Unum was the original motto of the United States of America since the time of the American Revolution. Its importance carried on to the signing of the United States Constitution. It has appeared on the country’s seal since the first seal was made in 1782 by Charles Thomson with influence from Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

E Pluribus Unum has been used on coins since 1786. In 1873 it became a legal requirement that all coins minted in the US have E Pluribus Unum inscribed on them. Still to this day, all American coins must be minted with E Pluribus Unum somewhere on the coin.

In 1956 “In God We Trust” replaced E Pluribus Unum as the national motto. Many people today aren’t aware of what E Pluribus Unum means.

Today, E Pluribus Unum means we are still a nation, like many, that United a diverse group of people into one country. Today it appears most notably on the Seal of the President of the United States.

LIBERAL

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Liberalism has its roots in the Age of Enlightenment, late 1600s-late 1700s. The father of liberalism, John Locke—an English philosopher—thought that reason and tolerance were quintessential to human nature and that the people are the ones who give the government its power. He believed strongly that life and liberty were natural rights for every human.

Thomas Jefferson closely followed the ideas of European philosophers of this era and incorporated some of these ideas into the Declaration of Independence. James Madison, another founding father, incorporated similar ideas into the United States Constitution.

The political/ideological movement is called liberalism because of its base in liberty and equality before the law. Documentation from all the way back in 1781 shows it being used to mean “free from narrow prejudice.” Today it can be used to mean anything left of center or anyone who believes that the people give the government its power and the government should regulate the economy.

The American Great Depression, 1929-1941, sparked a spike in liberal ideologies. This period saw the creation of the Social Security Administration and an overall increase in government involvement in the wellbeing of its citizens. Into the 1960s, liberalism focused more on civil rights, environmental activism, and the expansion of welfare and other government programs.

Today liberalism focuses on reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, support of individuals over corporations, and the opposition of tax cuts for the rich.

PROGRESSIVE

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The term progressive has been around since before the industrial revolution.

The Progressive Era, starting in the 1890s, saw rising support for civil liberties and the working class and a growing distaste toward the laissez-faire economics of the time. This was happening across the world, from Europe to South America, in all industrializing nations.

Progressivism continued growing into the 1900s; around this time ideas like women’s suffrage, ending government corruption, increasing education, and protecting the environment became areas of focus for the movement.

In the 21st century it has come to represent supporters of racial equality and rights for minorities as well as the centuries old idea that there should be regulations on the free market to mitigate economic inequality. Other progressive issues are health care reform, increasing the minimum wage, strong environmental protections, and income equality.

AF

People have been saying fuck for centuries. It may be much more common in times of modernity, but the word has been around since at least the 16th century; some records even indicate its use in the 14th century. The Oxford English Dictionary didn’t add it until 1972. One of the earliest uses of “as fuck” in pop culture was the in the song Straight Outta Compton in 1988. Urban Dictionary’s first documented appearance of “as fuck” was on February 25th, 2004.

The abbreviated form, “AF” was added to Urban Dictionary on October 10th, 2011. Today AF is more acceptable to use than ever, you can find it on baby clothes, mugs, and all over the internet. So, put on your big person shirt and wear one of these buttons.

DISSENT

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Dissent is one of the founding principles of the United States. Thomas Jefferson, in 1787, said that, “The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive.” Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president and a 5-star general, said “Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionaries and rebels—men and women who dared to dissent from accepted doctrine.”

Arguably the most famous quote regarding dissent is “dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” Many believe this is a quote from Jefferson, but the first documentation of a similar quote is from an anti-war group during the Vietnam era. Today dissent is making a comeback.

OF / BY / FOR THE PEOPLE

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When Lincoln delivered his iconic Gettysburg Address in November of 1863, he concluded with the hope, “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” A possible inspiration for that line of his address comes from former Senator Daniel Webster who said the government is, “made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people.” The idea that the government derives its strength from its people is an idea that was made popular by early philosophers of Liberalism such as John Locke. 

These ideas from early Liberalism contributed directly to the principles on which this country was founded, and we can see, from Lincoln’s speech, that these same ideas carried through to the civil war and the abolishment of slavery in the United States.

DEMOCRACY IN THE USA

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We were inspired to make a design of this phrase by two iconic works about democracy in the USA. “Democracy in America” is the title of a work by Alexis de Tocqueville from 1835. To write his book, he traveled around the United States studying society learning why democracy worked in the US. He found that the “habits of the heart” of Americans are what helped the success of democracy in the USA. Bruce Springsteen’s 1984 hit “Born in the USA” is both a celebration of America and a criticism of some aspects. In the song, he triumphantly shouts that he is born in the USA, he is a proud patriot. However, he also criticizes the struggles that veterans returning from Vietnam endured when they tried to re-enter society and the overall cost of life that the Vietnam war tolled on the United States.

Democracy is a cornerstone of the American way. The nature of democracy is that the people hold the power, so if you think our country has strayed from the ideals of democracy let your voice be heard.