If I am not for myself …

“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?

Hillel the Elder

Misuse & Misattributions of a Hillel’s maxim:

  • In 2012, the Republican National Convention party platform preamble declared, “We must answer Ronald Reagan’s question: If not us, who? And if not now, when?” Reagan did indeed deploy the phrase in an appeal to his cabinet.
  • In 2010, a Saturday Night Live sketch attributed the line to Robert F. Kennedy. Journalist Richard Wolffe did likewise in his book Revival, an account of Barack Obama’s first term when Obama used the phrase campaigning in Pennsylvania for the Affordable Care Act.
  • In 1963, Michigan governor George Romney stumped for his tax reform plan across the state with the impassioned plea, “If not now, when? If not us, who?”
  • “If not us, who? If not now, when?” – John F. Kennedy

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