Contest: A New Six-Word Motto for the U.S. (Again)

One year ago, we ran a simple contest on this blog: come up with a new six-word motto for the U.S. There were more than 1,000 submissions, a heated runoff between the finalists, and eventually a winner: “Our worst critics prefer to stay.”

The year that followed has been dramatic to say the least: the historic presidential election, a train wreck in the global financial sector, and a cratering “real” economy in the U.S. and elsewhere.

So I thought it might be worthwhile to try this contest again. A motto is meant to be permanent, or at least long-term; but just as a mental exercise, let’s assume we need a new one. “Our worst critics prefer to stay” ably captured the sentiment of a year ago, when there was rampant political dissension and concern about, say, the high price of gas. But such concerns have now been replaced by — what … Collective desperation? Radical hopefulness (warranted or otherwise)? A lack of faith — or, perhaps, a need for more faith?

Leave your suggestions for the new motto in the comments section. Once again, we’ll whittle down the submissions to some finalists and ask you to vote on them, and we’ll give some Freakonomics schwag to the winner/s.

Although the six-word conceit is an arbitrary one, please do stick to it, even if it means having a friend count the words for you. For some reason, such simple restrictions aren’t always upheld, as I discovered when I read the print version of this interesting profile of the newly appointed U.S. Senator from New York, Kirsten Gillibrand. In an earlier campaign, The Times article noted, Gillibrand “repeated a message that could be distilled in six words: Bush, Iraq, time for change.”

Addendum: The winner is announced here.

Blaise Pascal

I dunno, I think "Our worst critics prefer to stay." is still apt, and less likely to be overrun by time than anything catching the moment.


Still the leading manufacturer of progress


"Now Owned and Operated by China."

Jonathan Carr

"Fostering change in a changing World"

Coffee is over, now brewing trouble.

(Quite pessimistic, I apologize.)


Climbing back on to the horse.


"Failure here's better than success elsewhere."

Not necessarily a blanket statement, but I'd rather be an American beggar than a Zimbabwean (tr b m)illionaire.

Brian A

"Welcome to General Motors of America"


By and by, a nanny state.


Greed drives and destroys our growth.


To be fair, Seantor Gillibrand's message probably could have been distilled in six words; she simply took it to the next level.

As for our new motto: "Let no crisis go to waste."


Yes we can, but we won't

Dave G

"Only six words? We demand seven!"


"The Land of Six Word Mottoes," which was originally Tanzania's motto. Though it was 5 words in their tongue.


We are too big to fail.


Starting to remember what "America" means.

Justin Ritchie

Pioneering bubble economies, supplying your demand

Ralph Leonen

worse than imagined, better than expected


"Greed is good, but not always"


Welcome to President Obama's America 2.0


Let no government waste go unfunded.