america at its best

Who did ‘America at Its Best’ better?

For longtime State of the State watchers, Gov. Bill Lee’s speech on Monday night had something of a familiar ring to it. A recurring theme was the state slogan “Tennessee — America at Its Best.” Lee’s predecessor, Bill Haslam, also made the phrase the focus of the final State of the State address of his first term in office back in 2014.

Here are some excerpts of the respective governor’s rhetorical flourishes about state slogan:

Haslam in 2014Lee in 2022
As I begin my fourth year in office, I am convinced that Tennessee – America at Its Best is not just a 50-year-old slogan.  Over the years, leaders have reminded Tennesseans that America at Its Best is more than our slogan – it’s our north star. However, America at Its Best means something different today than it did in 1965 or even in the last decade.  
Expecting great outcomes will ensure that Tennessee is America at its best. Tennessee fulfills America at Its Best because of our optimism.  
For Tennessee to be America at its best, we must get health care right – for those who need health care coverage and for the long-term fiscal health of our state.  I am proposing a budget and America-at-its-best policies that reinforce freedom, innovation, exceptionalism, and optimism.  
Tennessee is America at its best because we employ one of the best tax strategies of all time – common sense.  If we are to embody America at Its Best, that starts with acknowledging that it is our creator who endows us with freedom, and the government merely maintains that freedom.  
Being America at its best means not doing government business the way we’ve always done it before.  Tennessee – America at Its Best embraces both sides of the coin: we acknowledge our shortcomings but build on our best.  
In the year 2025, 55 percent of Tennesseans will need a certificate or degree beyond high school to get a job. Today, only 32 percent of Tennesseans qualify. To truly be America at its best, that’s not good enough.  In Tennessee, there’s no reason why our institutions of higher learning can’t be an exceptional part of America at Its Best.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Randy Boyd for taking a leave of absence from his company and dedicating a year of his life – at no cost to the state – to work on this. He did it because he loves our state, and he wants Tennessee to be America at its best.  We are also proud to propose a series of research investments to ensure we stay on track to be America at Its Best.  
In Tennessee, we truly are America at its best.May we ensure that the beacon that is Tennessee – America at Its Best – shines brighter than ever before.


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