This weekend, the Wall Street Journal published an article titled “The New American Divide”. As I read it, I thought it was a great follow-up to my post on the American Dream. Recall, in that post I shared an overview of a very interesting market research study conducted by the Center For the Study of the American Dream at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. That study suggests the authenticity of Brand America’s Promise is under pressure.
The opening sentence of the WSJ article is “America is coming apart.” The core hypothesis is that there is an expanding inequality in wealth between the richest and poorest in America that is creating a divide that has significant cultural ramifications.
I read another article authored by Jon Talton and published in The Seattle Times titled “Our American Promise is at a Crossroads”. The article starts by sharing a conversation where the author overheard a well-dressed man talking about the eurozone crisis claim “I’ll tell you what I think it is, it’s the beginning of the end of the world.” Equally disheartening are two statistics Jon shares. A Rasmussen Poll last October found that only 37% of likely voters believed America’s best days are ahead. And, in a Gallup survey, 55% of respondents said it was very or somewhat likely today’s youth would enjoy a better life than their parents.
Jon writes for baby boomers and older the American Promise is – work hard, adapt and apply yourself, and you can achieve. But, he claims “Now that promise is at risk.” Jon believes the nation is divided more than it has been at any time since the Civil War. We are split into the haves, have-nots, and increasingly, never-will-haves.
As sobering as Jon’s article is, my spirit really responded to his concluding statement “We must reclaim something at the heart of the American promise: A balance between individualism and the truth that we’re all in this together. We are not just consumers but citizens, not merely economic actors but souls bound on the same journey.”
I also found a YouTube video about the American Promise I found fascinating. The video was created in 1986 and is introduced by the late NBC news anchor John Chancellor. The video reminded me that the challenges Brand America faces in the authenticity of its promise are not new.
Does it Matter?
I believe you get what you measure.
To the extent we continue to believe America is #1 globally, we will not be motivated to change. And, if the dissonance between what Brand America promises and what people experience is allowed to continue, our nation’s brand equity will erode and our economic prosperity will decline as a result. We risk creating a Generation without hope, without aspiration for a better way of life. In my opinion we sew the seeds of mediocrity for our children and grandchildren.
To the degree we accept that the authenticity of Brand America’s Promise needs to addressed, I’m optimistic we can create sustainable economic prosperity. We can put our nation on the path to a renaissance. Effective problem solving starts with an objective assessment of the current reality.
For me, the authenticity of Brand America’s Promise is a sleep loss issue.
What Are Your Thoughts?
Not withstanding the strengths of our nation, is the concern about the authenticity of Brand America’s Promise warranted? Do you believe the surveys are reflective of reality? Do you feel your children and grandchildren will be able to achieve the American Dream and will be more prosperous (however you define it) than you?
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