And the New Six-Word Motto for the U.S. Is …

Last week, we asked for your vote to decide the best of the top five entries to our “6-word motto for the U.S.” contest. As promised, we tallied the votes received in the first 48 hours after posting. There was a clear winner:

Our Worst Critics Prefer to Stay (194 votes)

Here are the runners-up:

Caution! Experiment in Progress Since 1776 (134)

The Most Gentle Empire So Far (64) votes

You Should See the Other Guy (38)

Just Like Canada, With Better Bacon (18)

I applaud your choice of winner, and I especially applaud “edholston,” the blog reader who wrote the motto. “Our Worst Critics Prefer to Stay” is, while perhaps not outrightly uplifting, a wonderfully concise acknowledgment of the paradox that a capitalist democracy inevitably is: a place that is often well worth complaining about, and which allows you to complain as loudly as you wish.

It seems a small reward to get just a piece of Freakonomics schwag for such a mighty task as writing a new motto for the United States, but that is all we have to offer. That, and our thanks — to Ed, and to all of you who participated.

Now, who among you can see about actually getting this motto adopted?


> Welcome to the World Wide Web. This isn't
> Usenet, please learn how to quote correctly.
> - Posted by Jim Strathmeyer

Jim, if your goal was to be incomprehensible, you get double bonus points. Congratulations.


The U.S. is not a democracy. It's a republic.


If "Our Worst Critics" means the people who live in the USA and complain about what the USA does, then I guess most of them do indeed want to stay in the USA, and fix it. By, you know, electing people who believe the stuff they learned in their Civics classes makes sense. Weird stuff like that.

If "Our Worst Critics" means the people who say the whole of the USA should be nuked until it glows, though, I think you'll find that most of them have never even set foot in the USA.

They have, instead, lived their whole lives in OTHER countries, in whose business the USA has meddled.

How often has that worked out well?

Joan of Argghh!

Aaron has merely lowered his expectations. Just wants some looongg vacay and a medical placebo. I have no problem with that, except that someone else has to pay for it.

If that's not an Imperialist attitude, I don't know what is: expecting your neighbor to slave away for your benefits, and appropriating your neighbor's resources for your own ease and prosperity.

Derek Giromini

I can't stand people who say, "If X is elected President, I'm moving to Y." Very few follow through on that pledge.

Josh Millard

And, after living in Canada for 25 years and thinking our beer was the best, nothing compares to a pale ale from one of the many microbreweries out here in Colorado.

Running with the both the international perceptions theme and the US/Canada culinary scrap theme here: I'd like to note that, having had local beer by the maßkrug in Germany, the Molson vs. Bud argument feels about as worldly as the World Series.


What's mine is mine, What's yours is mine...
USA, where it's great to be a rich white guy!

sorry... actually a more true motto from a foreign point of view after acutally visiting the US, might be:

Don't judge us by who we elect!
We're way nicer then our government.


I'm amazed at some of the confused interpretations of this motto people have come up with.

It seems pretty clear to me:

"Our worst critics prefer to stay."

in other words,

"We criticize our country, but wouldn't want to go anywhere else."

It neatly combines love of criticism, and love of country in one small package.

I hope that clears things up.

Jim Strathmeyer

"If America never existed, what would 3rd world adolescents have to complain about?"

Welcome to the World Wide Web. This isn't Usenet, please learn how to quote correctly.


The worst critics are too scared to raise their voices.
Meanwhile critics did leave when dissent was disallowed post 911.
I did. It was too hard to remain silent.

Dark years.

This 'motto' won't do anything to ease the perception of incompetent arrogance the USA has abroad.


I can't let this pass without a comment on the efficiency of Latin.

"E Pluribus Unum": Only Three Words.


Let's all take up a collection for Aaron so he can live somewhere where he is recognized as morally superior.

I'll start with 10 bucks. If he promises to leave.


This motto disturbs me. First of all, it implies that criticism is bad. Most critical = worst. Isn't criticism a necessary component of a healthy democracy? What does it say about the health of that democracy if its people view criticism as unwelcome?

Second of all, the motto extols as America's greatest virtue the fact that idealogical cleansing has not yet reached a point where critics must flee for their lives. Good job! That's a country I can be proud of!

I also wonder how much truth there is to the motto. Perhaps America's "worst" critics are not in America and have no intention of being there, let alone staying.

Oliver Townshend

Like Canada only with better Beer could only be the slogan for Belgium.


yes,please, Aaron, work harder on getting that visa (quit looking in trees) and leave, taking others like you... and don't let the door hit you on the ass!


The only problem with this motto is that its ( sic) not exactly easy to leave hear ( sic ).

Aaron, you could probably get a job outside the US as an Englitch teacher, if you are not already working as one HEAR in the US. It's not difficult to get an ESL job overseas. (not ITS. Remember: It's = IT IS.)

I worked overseas as an engineer in Latin America. After seeing the misgovernment, injustice, and bigotry of Latin America, the US looks pretty good. Working in the Third World turned me, a "progressive" of the left, into an evil right winger. From South of the Rio Grande, the US no longer looks like the Great Sinner. Critics of the US should spend time outside the US.


> They have, instead, lived their whole lives in
> OTHER countries, in whose business the USA has
> meddled.

Ah yes, the joy of blaming the outsiders, the big bogeyman, for one's own problems.

Observation: We are poor and have been poor since time began. And our government is corrupt and doesn't respect human rights much.

Question(s): Why are we poor and why is our government inefficient and sometimes repressive?

Possible answer: Can it be corruption, lawlessness, tribalism, bad political culture, lack of culural respect for business or education, or simple bad luck?

No, of course not.

More palatable answer: Naw, it's the big bad, rich empire that has done business with our corrupt, brutal leaders for a small fraction of our history. They are the ones keeping us poor.

If only the evil empire hadn't opposed that young charismatic leader--who wanted to expropriate foreign investment--50 years ago, all would be roses and sunshine today. That young leader would have ushered in 1000 years of peace and prosperity.

Why, we could be another North Korean or Cuban or Iranian paradise if it weren't for the evil Americans.

If America never existed, what would 3rd world adolescents have to complain about?



mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm beer

Steve Caron

"With better bacon" ? As a Canadian I am always amused to see 'Canadian bacon' on US menus. There is no such thing in Canada. What Americans refer to as 'Canadian bacon' Canadians call 'back bacon' and it is rarely available on menus and seldom eaten at home. We eat the same style of bacon as Americans.


perfect motto. thank you, freaky readers, for voting for a noble motto, one befitting the greatest. country. evah.

proud to read here with you. long live the u.s.a.