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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Real American Dream

by capper

Today, in Pewaukee, there is a small gathering of right-wing anti-tax zealots attending something called Defending the American Dream Summit, which is being sponsored by Americans For Prosperity. Their message is basically summed up as "Taxes are bad." Their most recent and questionable claim to fame was a rally in Madison last fall in which they were outnumbered two to one by people like firefighters, corrections officers, state employees, and people that understand that society needs basic services to provided in order to stay intact, and that these services need to be paid for.

Besides being a fairly transparent campaigning event for Scott Walker and Mike Gableman, they will be apparently doing a lot of cheerleading on ways to cut services to people that need it, like the poor, the elderly, the disabled and school children.

But their summit today is misnamed at best, and is rather misleading. The term American Dream came from a passage from The Epic of America, written by James Truslow Adams in 1931:
The American Dream is "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.

This definition has changed over the years and has included other aspects, such as the Declaration of Independence, in which is written the phrase:
"…held certain 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."

The basic premise of the term American Dream throughout all references is that people should have a chance to have the best life they can, regardless of race, class, gender, or any other trait that has been traditionally discriminated against.

The AFP and their followers have limited this vision down to simple material wealth, and are highly resentful of anyone or anything that would get in their way of attaining more of it. They also apparently don't feel the need to be responsible for anyone or anything else, but the addition to their own material wealth.

Grumps give a good example of this mentality out in this post dealing with the recent snow storm:

Still, Rock County has four plows operating in two 12-hour shifts, down fromeight plows about five years ago, Coopman said. Those same four plows patrol thesame stretch in both light snowfall and blizzards.

Coopman compared the snow plows to fire trucks. "You pray you never need them," Coopman said. "But in our business, elected officials have said we'll take our chances and start cutting back on having those 'fire trucks' available. Then when you have the fire like (Wednesday), you don't have them."

Every time you say that government needs to make cuts, every time you stand up and shout that your tax dollars are wasted you have to take part of the responsibility for the choices made in your name. Your nattering about waste, when looking at real hard choices, leads to cuts in services.

You are responsible for the lack of plows an the roads.

Listen. Learn. Figure it out. Some days the Cavalry isn't coming. Prepare. Grow the Hell up.

Instead of the American Dream being considered a situation of "more for me, screw the rest of you" as presented by the AFP, I much prefer the way the Changes to Win Foundation is choosing to defend the American Dream:

With a new Congress we have a chance to build a better future for our country and our children. For years, America’s been heading in the wrong direction with American workers working hard yet losing ground. Wages aren’t keeping up with the cost of living, fewer and fewer workers have health care, and retirement security is increasingly a thing of the past. But a new Congress brings new hope. Together we can restore the pillars of the American Dream:

  • A paycheck that supports a family.
  • Quality, affordable health care for all.
  • A secure and dignified retirement.
  • The freedom to join together in unions.

I think it would be better for everyone to have a chance at the best life they can have, not just the elitist few.

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