Language in America - Presidential Candidate Positions


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Bob Dole supports declaring English the official language of the United States. Bill Clinton, although he signed Arkansas’ declaration of English as its state official language, opposes making English the official language of the United States government.

Bob Dole:

From a speech to the American Legion, September 4, 1995, Indianapolis, Indiana:

"If one of the most important missions of our schools is to make citizens of our children, fluency in English should be a central educational goal of every state in our Nation. English is the language in which we still speak to each other across the frontiers of culture and race. It is the language of the Constitution. It is the language in which we conduct our great national debates - an essential ingredient of democracy. Insisting that all our citizens are fluent in English is a welcoming act of inclusion, and insist on it we must.

"Yes, schools should provide the language classes our immigrants and their families need, as long as their purpose is the teaching of English. We have done this since our founding to speed the melting of our melting pot. But we must stop the practice of multi-lingual education as a means of instilling ethnic pride, or as a therapy for low self-esteem or out of elitist guilt over a culture built on the traditions of the West. With all the divisive forces tearing at our country, we need the glue of language to help hold us together. If we want to ensure that all our children have the same opportunities in life, alternative language education should stop and English should be acknowledged once and for all as the official language of the United States."

Bill Clinton:

From a speech to the Hispanic Caucus Institute, September 27, 1995, Washington, D.C.:

"And I want to just say a word in that context about bilingual education. Of course, English is the language of the
United States. Of course it is. That is not the issue. The issue is whether children who come here, while they are learning English, should also be able to learn other things. The issue is whether American citizens who work hard and pay taxes and are older and haven't mastered English yet should be able to vote like other citizens. The issue, in short, is not whether English is our language; it is. The issue is whether or not we're going to value the culture, the traditions of everybody and also recognize that we have a solemn obligation every day in every way to let these children live up to the fullest of their God-given capacities. That's what this is about."

White House Spokeswoman Ginny Terzano, Responding to Sen. Dole's American Legion speech (above) September 5, 1995 Washington, D.C.:

Dole's proposal "is not realistic because so many young students don't speak English, and in order to communicate with their teachers and reach full competency in their courses they have to be taught in Spanish."

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