The American Dream was once a dream of an America in which life should be better, richer and fuller for all, because with hard work, ability, moral behavior and dedication you could assure yourself an opportunity for achievement or success.
The second sentence of the Declaration of Independence gave birth to the idea of the American Dream. It states that “all men are created equal” and have “certain inalienable Rights” including “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This ideal has inspired generations to create an American experience of national pride, innovation, individual freedom, self reliance and prosperity that fueled the country to world leadership.
Since WWI the United States has been regarded as a beacon of liberty and prosperity achieved through a combination of the philosophical and ethical principles conceived by the founding fathers. Around the world America has been viewed as the promised land where one’s prospects in life are defined by one’s talents and energy making it a destination for immigrants worldwide in search of a better life. This included the opportunity for their children to receive an education and career opportunities. It represented the opportunity to make individual choices without the restrictions of gender, race, religion or an oppressive government. Today the American Dream is still alive and well in third world countries around the globe – yet here at home it has lost its’ luster.
I am also sad to say that I have several friends I work with who immigrated to the U.S. over the past 10 to 15 years from eastern Europe, who now tell me that they feel as though America is turning toward the very thing that they tried to escape – socialism. That is a sobering thing to hear.
So what has happened that we find ourselves in our current situation?
America lost its’ way, particularly over the past 21 years, what used to be the American Dream of prior generations has evolved into a culture of entitlement and consumerism. The original American dream was not merely a dream of big houses, fancy cars and high wages, but a dream of a social order in which each man or woman would be able to have the opportunity to attain to the success that they were innately of capable, regardless of the circumstances of birth. It was about a national experience of patriotism and a common success shared by many.
I was taught by my parents that with hard work, perseverance, integrity and dedication that I could create opportunities that would put me in a position to succeed. I taught my children the same and today all are working and supporting their families.
Sadly, today for many Americans it has degenerated into a culture that focuses on bringing prosperity to oneself. Greed, unethical behavior and overriding self interest for many have replaced patriotism, ethical behavior, hard work and a sense of community.
The majority of our leaders are not leaders at all. They are politicians, obsessed with their own power, greed and legacies. Politics is their vocation. To ensure their power continues they promise anything and everything to earn the favor of the voters. As we have added layer after layer to our social and entitlement programs our national debt and our need for tax revenue have taken on lives of their own. Many now believe that it is the responsibility of the federal government to take care of them.
It is time for a change! We must find a way to return to our core national values. We need to feel like we did on Sep.12, 2001. You remember that feeling of pride in America, a feeling of a national community, the desire to help your fellow citizens. Doing the right thing does not mean establishing an enormous federal government to provide nanny state oversight so that everything is equal among the citizens. Doing the right thing is creating the opportunity for everyone to succeed according to their abilities. There is no free lunch, not in America or anywhere else!
It is time to stop apologizing to the world for our success. As a citizen of the world we have been a good and giving nation. Can we be a better citizen of the world? Of course, so can every other country on the planet. However the way we can do it might shock you. Here is a list of just a few things we might do differently:
- Respect the sovereignty of other nations and get out of their business. Get out of the UN and reject the principles of global governance.
- Focus our resources on our own country and our people. Strength at home will result in strength abroad. We can’t fix the world and the more we try the worse we make things.
- Restore our national pride and encourage patriotism by recognizing and teaching our “real” history in our schools.
- Reinstate family values in our public policy.
- Return our government to the principles of the Constitution. Smaller federal government, stronger state and local government. Eliminate deficit spending in government and cap taxation.
- Over time phase out the Federal Reserve.
- Make being an elected official – public service again. Establish term limits at all levels of government.
- Allow free markets and capitalism to work.
- Hold our leaders accountable.
I know that to many this will seem overly simplistic – and it is. The suggestions above are not new, not easily implemented but the represent the core directional shift we must make to save the country we love and to revive the original American Dream because without the structure of our Constitutional government and the freedom it nurtures the dream can not survive.
I’ll close with some words of wisdom from a few of our founding fathers and great leaders:
“If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy”. – Thomas Jefferson
“With respect to the two words ‘general welfare,’ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.” — James Madison
“To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.” — Thomas Jefferson
“Our best protection against bigger government in Washington is better government in the states” – Dwight David Eisenhower
“If you want total security, go to prison. There you’re fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking… is freedom”. – Dwight D. Eisenhower
“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government — lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.” — Patrick Henry
“’Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent Alliances, with any portion of the foreign world. ….’Tis folly in one Nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its Independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favours and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect, or calculate upon real favours from Nation to Nation. ‘Tis an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard”. – George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
“A constitution founded on these principles introduces knowledge among the people, and inspires them with a conscious dignity becoming freemen; a general emulation takes place, which causes good humor, sociability, good manners, and good morals to be general. That elevation of sentiment inspired by such a government, makes the common people brave and enterprising. That ambition which is inspired by it makes them sober, industrious, and frugal”. – John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776
“A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have,” – Gerald Ford
The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’ -Ronald Reagan
“But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever”. – John Adams
Restore the Republic and the American Dream! The time is here, The time is now!