American Constitutive Stories

Introducing our podcast

Harris Mylonas and Andrew Thompson, two political science professors from George Washington University, have put together a space where Americans from different walks of life can share their understanding of their national identity, how it relates to other identities, who they think to be American heroes, and what they see as the most promising connecting tissue of our society in the future.

Matthew Nimetz’s American Constitutive Story

In this episode of American Constitutive Stories, Matthew Nimetz—an American diplomat and a former lawyer and private equity partner born in Brooklyn New York—shares his understanding of our national identity. He describes how the definition of the core group in America has expanded over his life time and suggests that ours is a period where people are more comfortable with collective American heroes, rather than one where individuals can be glorified. Finally, he argues that belief in a “land of opportunities” where “upward social mobility is possible for everyone,” whatever its actual limitations, is still the most promising connecting tissue of our society.

Phoebe Bui’s American Constitutive Story

In this episode of American Constitutive Stories, Phoebe Bui—an independent consultant currently evaluating racial equity programs—shares her understanding of our common identity. As a second generation Vietnamese-Filipina-American, and based on her research, she argues that race plays the most crucial role in core group membership. According to Phoebe, we need to begin to think about how we are going to be American, instead of who gets to be an American. She suggests that we need to first recognize the contradictory nature of how the government and individuals define American identity, and then cultivate an informed, proactive civic life as a tool to bring about a broader, more inclusive definition of American membership.

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