American Dreams

The fundamental problem with the rhetoric from Clinton and Sanders, for me, is that it’s all based on the assumption of entitlement to the American Dream. I listened to both of their speeches after the votes were more or less in for the Iowa Caucuses, and I saw that common thread in both. The underlying idea that we’re all somehow entitled to this idealized version of the dream.

That’s not how it works, not how it was ever meant to work. You aren’t supposed to be able to have it handed to you just because you’re born an American, and trying to make that happen for everyone is a good way to kill the possibility of it. For everybody. How is that so?

In trying to ensure it, you have to take away from what others have achieved.

You have to take from people who weren’t given the American Dream, but achieved it.

Through hard work, failures, perseverance. And the people that it’s handed to will have no appreciation for it, they will not have had to fight tooth and nail to attain it. Attempting to ensure it for all… chips at the foundation of it, and ignores a functional, if unpleasant, aspect of it: not everyone can or will attain it for themselves.

People who can get behind the ideas of Bernie Sanders, or Clinton, are people who can’t accept that hard truth. That in order for such a dream to be possible, it must be left up to the individuals of our nation to rise up and grab for themselves, or to fail in the attempt. The possibility of failure gives it meaning and value. What I mean, is that people should be allowed the freedom to fail.

The only issue ever at stake for Americans, truly, has been how to protect the freedom to succeed. The two go hand in hand, and you can’t have one without the other. When the freedom to succeed becomes some sort of right, and the right to do so (or to fail) by our own hands is taken from us, when successful attainment of it is considered the baseline the government should provide to us…

You no longer have either freedom.

It is not success and it is not achievement if we don’t have to do anything to get it.

All our government is supposed to do is protect our right to pursue it. Anything less is unconstitutional, un-American, and this is something I see a lot in the speeches from these two politicians, but their solutions go beyond protecting the right to pursuit. They go to the other extreme, claiming that it’s not a right to pursue but, instead, a right to have and possess.

That is over-protection, and that is just as bad as not protecting it at all.

In this sense, Clinton is a bad choice, and Sanders is worse.

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