Who are we?

Senator Arlen Specter on reconciling what America stands for and its standing abroad.
  • Transcript


Arlen Specter: I would say that the values that we articulate of freedom, opportunity, equality, justice, that there is a gap between what we say and even how we regard our actions in the United States with so many problems. Certainly there is an enormous gap with the way other nations view the United States as to what we stand for. I come down to the structure of our government, separation of powers and checks and balances. We eventually get it right because Americans are decent people, and we really do prize the concept of liberty, and equality, and opportunity, and justice. When the country was founded we had slavery. We certainly didn’t include or comprehend Thomas Jefferson’s statement in the Declaration of Independence of liberty. It took us more than a century to have votes for the women. So we didn’t have really an extensive democracy. We have problems today at Guantanamo. The constitutional right of habeas corpus. We have problems with immigration, but we are working with them. And ultimately I think we will get it right. And our structure of government with separation of powers and checks and balances is really, in a large sense, the greater symbol of what America stands for.