The American dream promises that anyone can make it if they work hard enough and play by the rules. Anyone can make it by pulling themselves up by their “bootstraps.”
So as inequality of income and wealth has widened – especially along the lines of race and gender – American children born into poverty have less chance of making it. While 90% of children born in 1940 grew up to earn more than their parents, today only half of all American adults earn more than their parents did.
The phrase “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps” itself is rubbish. Its origins date back to an 18th-century fairy tale, and the phrase was originally intended as a metaphor for an impossible feat of strength.
Other countries understand that the family you’re born into as well as the social safety nets and social springboards you have access to play large roles.
Children born poor in Canada, Denmark, or the United Kingdom – nations without America’s degree of inequality, nations which provide strong social safety nets and public investments – have a greater chance of economic success than children born poor in America.
Individuals in those countries are blamed less for their personal failures and credited less for personal successes.
So, why is America still perpetuating the fallacy of the self-made individual? Because those in power want you to believe it. If everyone thinks they’re on their own, it’s easier for the powerful to dismantle unions, unravel safety nets, and slash taxes for the wealthy.
It’s in their interest to keep the American Dream deeply rooted in our psyche – the assumption that you determine your destiny. So we don’t demand reforms that are necessary – paid family and medical leave, for example, or early childhood education, accessible childcare, and policies that lift every family out of poverty.
Let’s stop perpetuating this myth of the self-made individual. And let’s start rebuilding the American dream by creating opportunities for all, not just those who are already wealthy, privileged, and well-connected.
Trump’s healthcare order blasted as a ‘bribe’ to seniors and a ‘joke’ to the rest of America
President Donald Trump's healthcare plan was blasted Thursday for pushing things that are already in place, taking credit for past laws and making grand announcements that Trump will never be able to ensure actually happen. It took Trump five years to come up with this healthcare "plan."
To start, Trump began by making the same promise that President Barack Obama did - "If you like your doctor you can keep them." The regulation of which doctors are covered under healthcare plans aren't handled by the government as individual insurance companies make their own corporate decisions about which doctors are covered under their plans.
Trump turns to extortion as he struggles in the polls
In conversations about Donald Trump’s contempt for the rule of law, civic-republican institutions and democratic norms, you have probably run into the following. The president’s term ends January 20, 2021. If by then the election has no clear winner, and that could be the case, the constitutional order of succession goes to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Don’t you worry. Similarly, in conversations about the role of the US Supreme Court, if it ends up deciding the election, you have probably heard the following. Whoever the new justice is, he or she won’t be involved in the court’s ruling, because professional legal ethics require recusing himself or herself. Don’t you worry.
Republicans should be careful what they wish for
When it comes to the issue of abortion rights, America’s 50 states hold widely differing views and don’t break down along red-blue lines as predictably as one might expect.
That might be good news for former Vice President Joe Biden.
As the nation prepares for an epic battle over a Supreme Court nomination to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, some key battleground states aren’t as closely divided on abortion as they are on the presidency. President Donald Trump’s rush to fill the vacant seat might supercharge evangelicals in his base nationally, but with some irony, he might not be doing himself any favors at the Electoral College.