I was struck and disappointed by the lack of discussion in the RNC debate about the American Dream. It is true the candidates spoke about topics that can impact resident attainment of their American Dream, but there was little overt connection between their proposed actions and the American Dream.
For example, any action on turbocharging the economy has an impact on resident attainment of the Economic sub-Dream. I would have liked to hear from the candidates how they believed their proposed actions would make it easier for residents to achieve their American Dream. How would tax reform impact it? And for whom?
Another example was the discussion on Social Security and Medicare. How would the proposed actions impact residents ability to achieve their Well-Being sub-Dream?
The lack of connection between actions and impact on the American Dream suggests the candidates are ill informed on what the American Dream actually is. It reinforces my contention that every candidate (regardless of political party) should read Xavier University’s research into the American Dream so they can speak authoritatively.
American Dream Quotations From The 9:00PM EST Debate
Carson – “America became a great nation early on not because it was flooded with politicians, but because it was flooded with people who understood the value of personal responsibility, hard work, creativity, innovation, and that’s what will get us on the right track now, as well.”
Kasich – “You know, America is a miracle country. And we have to restore the sense that the miracle will apply to you. Each and every one of the people in this country who’s watching tonight, lift everybody, unite everybody and build a stronger United States of America again. It will be and can be done.”
Bush – “…give people hope that their life is better because too many people are suffering today in America.”
Rubio – “Both of my parents were born into poor families on the island of Cuba. They came to America because it was the only place where people like them could have a chance. Here in this country, they never made it big, but the very purpose of their life was to give us the chance to do all the things they never could. My father was a bartender. And the journey from the back of that bar to this stage tonight, to me, that is the essence of the American Dream.”
We are not going to get the United States on an accelerated path to regain our nation’s exceptionalism until our elected officials understand the American Dream along with the connection between their actions and the ability of residents to achieve their American Dream.
This means all candidates for President should understand what the American Dream actually is and what the key barriers are to attaining it.
Undoubtedly jobs are important. But job growth and economic expansion is not a silver bullet solution. Social connectivity and a feeling of self destiny are important as well. We need to focus more efforts on giving residents a hand-up and cut funding of programs that are strictly a hand-out. In my opinion the continued creation of a society dependent on the government for subsidies to survive is the biggest threat to the American Dream. It saps the will of our nation to achieve at a level equal to the combined full potential of its residents.
I would love to hear from you. I have a strong interest in the role of the American Dream as a North Star to guide policy and program decisions at all levels of government. As I continue to shape my thinking, your feedback is extremely helpful.
I would like to try and limit the discussion to feedback on the role of the American Dream and whether politicians “get it”. There are a lot of other forums for political debate. Thanks for playing by the rules.