Preserving the American Dream
by Linda Porterfield, Charlotte County Dems writer
We are attacked for not wearing or wearing masks, violating or supporting social distance guidelines, protecting or destroying confederate monuments, and protesting or upholding the status quo regarding many of the controversial issues on the political agenda this election season. Verbal harassment fueled by political divide in this country has never been louder since the Vietnam War. Are we now in a war with ourselves?
It appears to be so.
The growing strength of the Red/Blue divide is heightened by a raging pandemic, a revolt in policing practices and a racial divide so deep we can’t see the bottom. Resulting financial and economic insecurity amplify this current state to near panic, changing our daily activities to new, uncomfortable routines challenged by sustainability. We see and read daily reports of verbal or physical assaults arising from political differences which, in some cases, are even orchestrated by the highest levels of government.
The resulting political chaos is not really about destroying Confederate monuments, changing the names of sports teams, striking down the Affordable Care Act or legislating tax cuts for the rich. It grows from a much deeper place. It is about fear. The overt animosity between Red and Blue sides of the aisle in Congress and in daily life stems from a more ominous source largely cultivated by the Trump administration: the fear from both sides of losing or never attaining the American Dream.
During speeches at gatherings exposing Americans to COVID-19 and in media interviews this administration either explicitly or implicitly stokes the embers of fear: fear of losing rights, fear of losing freedoms to “fascist” democrats and fear of imagined threats from non-white Americans attempting to pursue the goals collectively known as the American Dream.
The American Dream , a term coined in 1931 by James Truslaw Adams in the book, “The Epic of America” is the belief that “anyone, regardless of where they were born or the class they were born into, can attain their own version of success in a society where upward mobility is possible for everyone. The American Dream is achieved through sacrifice, risk-taking and hard work rather than by chance.”
The American Dream concept is referenced in the Declaration of Independence which proclaims “all men are created equal with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and also appears in the preamble of the Constitution as “secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”
Embedded within the fabric of our country since its very beginning, the American Dream has earned a coveted place in our descriptive lexicon of hopes and dreams. Evolution of our culture, however, modified the original concept. Materialism stealthily crept into our value system and remained until the Great Recession forced a new reality upon us and exposed the infection of greed.
Many of us ardently endorse causes and programs that support removing barriers to achieving the dream. As Democrats, we work and vote for strengthening aspects of the supportive network opening the door of possibility to those frequently finding it closed. At just about every legislative opportunity the Trump administration has fought for keeping this door closed. From education, health care, immigration, and many other policy efforts this administration has not only tried to stop progress but also fought to take away existing opportunities already diluted by years of legislative neglect.
In protecting and expanding our work for the pursuit of opportunity we endorse freedom of expression for everyone across American political parties. We may not all agree but exercising this right is a privilege and a democratic tool promoting beneficial change for all. It is undeserving of the verbal or physical harassment present in political discourse today.
We do not need to attack each other when exercising this freedom to promote our views. The antidote to the fear and attacks eroding civil political discourse is understanding.
Understanding is achieved with tolerance, communication and a reciprocity of respect for our guaranteed rights expressed in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the vision of James Truslaw Adams described in “The Epic of America” so long ago.
We must refuse to lose the American Dream and not fear fighting for its preservation.
A needed change in tone toward civility will not happen while the Trump administration remains in power. It can, however, happen when presumptive democratic nominee Joe Biden implements his Visions for America when elected president on November 3rd.
Read about Biden’s visions. Vote for him to maintain the American Dream for everyone. Otherwise, for so many it will remain just that…a dream.