United We Stand

By Melissa Lee

In our current unit of our AP US Government class, we’re learning about American political culture—that is, how America is unique in terms of its ideas, principles, and tendencies. So far, I’ve found this unit to be highly interesting because I find that I really identify with American political culture. Individualism, capitalism, the belief in equality of opportunity so that all individuals can better their situations through personal efforts and talents—such ideas make up the core of my set of beliefs.

What I find to be truly interesting is the overall uniqueness of American political culture. By no means is America the only democratic nation in the world. However, in various surveys and statistical measures, Americans have consistently proven to follow a unique trend in values. More so than citizens of other nations, Americans believe that it is not the government’s responsibility to ensure that individuals have a reasonable standard of living. While all individuals should be given an equal opportunity to better their situations, from that point, it is up to the individual’s personal efforts and dedication to ensure success. Furthermore, as surveys show, Americans strongly believe in the “Rule of Law,” or the idea that everyone should be treated equally before the law, even government officials.

However, as I’ve also discovered by analyzing demographic charts and graphs, America is far from being a homogeneous nation. The United States is inhabited by individuals of various different ethnicities (Hispanic, African American, Asian), religions (Protestants, Catholics), income brackets (upper class, middle class, and those in poverty), and political leanings (Republicans, Democrats). It is important to be aware of these differences as well, for they are another part of what makes the United States truly unique.

In the end, America is a land of great diversity. However, it is also a land where individuals are bound together by common ideas of liberty and equality. In the end, these common ideas are what help various individuals come together as the United States of America.

Photo Source: https://courses.onlineschoolforgirls.org/mike.gwaltney/americangovernmentap2012/cms_page/view/1696301



  1. I really like the graphic. Is it really possible that differing opinions on equality can unite Americans as a people? Enjoyed your thoughts and keep sharing them.


    • Hi Tom,

      Thanks for your response! To answer your question, in my article I’ve stated that equality is one of the core values that Americans share, so even though Americans may have other differences (e.g. ethnicity, political leanings, etc.), they can still come together on this shared value. Thanks again!



  2. Thanks for highlighting these important ideas and terms. You state that all individuals should be given an equal opportunity to better their situations, and I am interested in how you define equal opportunity and what you think is necessary to provide it.


    • Hi Alex,

      Thanks for your response! In response to your question, equal opportunity is defined as freedom from unfair discrimination that infringes on a person’s ability to exercise his or her rights (such as discrimination on the basis of race or gender). For example, equality of opportunity is not being upheld when an employee receives lower pay than another employee simply because of his or her race or gender. Because of unfair discrimination, this employee does not have the equal opportunity to workplace advancement. In the end, I believe that it is necessary to implement measures that guard against various forms of discrimination (including racial and gender discrimination) if equality of opportunity is to be upheld. Thanks again!



  3. Hello Melissa,

    First of all, I really appreciate your blog post! I find the material presented very interesting. I am fascinated by your comment “More so than citizens of other nations, Americans believe that it is not the government’s responsibility to ensure that individuals have a reasonable standard of living.” I am curious, however, about your source of information. In fact, in our health care system any person who goes into the Emergency Room, by law, must receive immediate medical attention regardless of ability to pay. This example, of many, leads me to believe that our wonderful nation is very concerned with an individual’s standard of living. In addition, our country prides itself in the “safety net” that supports citizens who are struck with hardship. I believe that our nation fits somewhere in the middle of the spectrum with respect to social benefits available to indigent citizens.

    -Eric Musselman
    Parish Episcopal School – Dallas, TX


    • Hi Eric!

      Thanks for your response! To answer your question, we have been using James Wilson and John Dilulio’s textbook American Government (11th ed.) in our AP US Government class, so it served as my source of information for the statement that you indicated. Just to clarify, in my post, I didn’t say that America provides no kind of “safety net” for its citizens. I was referring to the fact that other nations (such as Britain or France) have more government spending on public services than does the United States, thereby fostering a political culture where the government is more involved in ensuring individuals’ standard of living.

      Thanks again!


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