Our founders wrote in our nation’s first document, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Today, Americans are imprinted with this belief and a strong sense of freedom — that we can be who we want to be, to love, to live and to thrive. This ideal is at the center of our nation and creates a strong bond between all of us.
Our politics suggests an America of two realities. Two different worlds under one flag. The truth is we have more in common than would first appear and instead of building bridges — those in power have divided us to gain more power and influence to push their agenda of benefiting the few over the many. Leveraging specific points of disagreement, these individuals fractured our nation and turned neighbor against neighbor creating a “you’re either with me or against me” mentality that permeates our politics today. By turning us on each other and feeding discontent — our energy and focus turns towards each other instead of working together to hold those in power accountable to the people.
All Americans simply want opportunity. Opportunity to work hard and through determination, persistence and effort — a share in America’s abundance. A chance to carve out a life of our own making and the freedom to make our own choices without intrusion from others. We celebrate the American dream and the idea that in our country, any and all, have the chance to change their fortunes through their hard work. We may disagree to the extent that Americans need help on our journeys, but we all agree that each and every one of us should have the opportunity to achieve a better life along the path of our choosing.
Americans want to feel the pride of earning their way up the economic ladder and watching our children achieve more than we could ever imagine. Each generation living better than the last is a fundamental American ideal and core to who we are as a country. We all desire high paying jobs that reward hard work and advancement. We all believe that education is the key to unlocking unlimited ability and opening doors to better futures. We want to be able to retire with dignity after giving our best years to our jobs and working hard. We believe protecting our health is vital to fulfilling our potential and no one should be without healthcare. We want to feel a part of the greater community, included and respected. We want to be Americans without labels. Instead, Americans with dreams, hope and opportunity.
Yet, hope and opportunity have been replaced with fear and despair. Americans are still trying to recover from the Great Recession and find a path to prosperity — while our leaders have doubled-down on polarizing politics. It is us who suffer — all of us. Republicans, Democrats and Independents can easily list the devastating outcomes that have occurred and the erosion of our Main Streets due to decades of decisions designed to favor those at the top and Wall Street. “Mom and Pop” shops shut down to large corporate competitors, jobs lost to automation, and deregulation that allowed Wall Street to gamble Main Street’s dimes are just a few examples. Meanwhile — our leaders proclaim our diminishing opportunity is due to our neighbors and others in our community — with our only recourse being to out compete them. Yet, these same leaders have enacted rules allowing the very largest and the very top to have to compete less with everyone else.
A competitive America doesn’t have to be in conflict with a compassionate America. We can leverage the power of competition, but unchecked competition with no compassion doesn’t produce a better America. Winning at all costs isn’t what’s best for the greater good and that’s what we have today. We can change this, but we have to be able to look past our few differences and focus on our many similarities. Americans have to demand solutions that foster opportunity for the many and not just the few. We need investments in policies and infrastructure that allow all of us to be able to create better lives for ourselves. We need to get back on a path that allows more and more Americans to achieve the American dream.
This is our moment. It’s our time to restore hope and opportunity and change the conversation. We can do it and be the epicenter of the great change that America requires. America isn’t without its challenges and its path hasn’t always been fair, righteous and free of wrong-doing, but America will always be what we make of it. Each and everyone one of us has a stake — a responsibility to do what’s needed to fulfill our founders’ idea and vision. As Abraham Lincoln once stated, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” It’s our moment to re-unite our country and lead us back to prosperity. #OurMoment
Written By: Charlie Breit (Twitter: @charlie_breit)