The American Dream on life support

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By Nate Tenopir

Just a generation ago it was morning in America.  But after the election results I can’t help but feel that we’ve been plunged back into a very dark and endless night.

The idea of the American dream might be dead.  If it’s not dead then there are at least fewer people who believe in it than at any time in the nation’s history.

How can that be you ask?  Didn’t we re-elect a minority individual who came from relative poverty and nothingness to become president?

But it’s not about Obama.  This is about us.  This is about how, despite all the evidence at hand, we felt this man deserved a second term.

In his first four years the president did not improve the unemployment rate, he raised the deficit by 52 percent, the number of people below the poverty line increased by 6.4 million, average household income declined by $2,492, gas prices went up by 106 percent and the number of Americans on food stamps went up by just over 45 percent.

These facts are indisputable.  They’re also troubling because they’re likely to continue and get worse.

When we voted last week, we said we agree.  According to exit polls, 59 percent of the electorate said that the economy was the most important issue facing the country.

Only 47 percent of those people voted for President Obama, 51 percent favored Mitt Romney.  The quality people said mattered most in deciding who to vote for was having a vision for the future.  Romney won that group 54-45.

On the issue of Obamacare, 49 percent said they’d favor repealing either some of it or all of it, compared to 44 percent who said either expand it or leave it as is.  Romney won the first group 83-15.

More Americans believe Romney would do a better job handling the economy 49-48.  More Americans also think government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals by a 51-43 margin.

When asked about the condition of the nation’s economy, 77 percent rated it as not so good or poor, and chose Romney 60-38.

Fifty five percent said economic conditions are either poor and staying the same or getting worse.  Fifty two percent feel the country is seriously off on the wrong track.

In general, most Americans think the economy is the most important issue, most think the country is on the wrong track and most think Romney has a better vision and could better handle the problems at hand.

So why did he lose?  If most of us agree that the economy is the most important thing and Romney can do a better job of fixing it, why did we re-elect Obama?

Two things stood out.  Twenty one percent of voters said caring about people like me was how they decided to vote.

They favored Obama 81-18.  Fifty three percent said Obama is more in touch with people like you.

This is how we’re deciding things now?  We agree the economy is in the most important issue, we agree it’s in the crapper and we agree that Romney would do the best job of fixing it.

But we’ll vote for Obama because we like him?  Because he gives us free stuff?

The American Dream Is built upon the idea of coming from meager beginnings and achieving more.  It’s about parents who sacrifice so they’re children can have a better future. 

It’s about working hard, taking risks and creating your own success, creating your own prosperity.  Other Americans enjoy that prosperity through employment, working hard then branching out and taking their own risks and creating more prosperity.

Immigrants did that 225 plus years ago, and they still do it today.  Asians, Africans, Europeans, Latinos and other demographics leave their homeland and come to America because of this dream.

They leave their nation of origin because no matter how hard they work, more and more of their income was being taken by the government.  They leave because who their daddy was determines who they are going to be.

They leave because their color, their religion, their gender or their sexual orientation determines their level of success.  Granted, we still have much to do in this country.

But in America, unlike anywhere else, hard work pays off for Blacks, Jews, women and homosexuals, among other groups.  On Tuesday, Americans rejected this idea.

Today in the United States, more of us believe the system is inherently unfair and unjust.  We feel like no matter what we do, some rich guy somewhere is going to keep us from achievement.

Hard work doesn’t pay off.  Taking risks doesn’t pay off.  Starting your own business is impossible.  Creating wealth and prosperity are out of reach.

We need a president who can level the playing field, and we’ll vote for Obama because he’s the guy who can do it.  This country has battered woman’s syndrome.

Most of us said that Obama is doing a bad job, the country is on the wrong track and we feel like we had a better option.  But we didn’t vote for it.

The country is more in debt, less of us are working, we’re taking home less money and more of us are poor.  We got in an argument, he gave us a right cross to the face and we kicked him out of the house.

But black-eyed and full of tears, he bought us flowers, said he’s sorry and we let him back in the house.  He means well, he’s doing the best he can.  It’s not really his fault. 

His dad was abusive, he can’t find a job, he just needs someone who cares.  No matter what he does he means well.  He might say one thing and do another, but eventually he’ll live up to all those promises he made.

Obama can’t stop spending money, he punishes success and he rejects the idea of American individualism and exceptionalism

But, like a battered woman, we feel eventually he’s going to get it right.  We take home less money, more of us are poor and we’re leaving future generations with less than we had.

But he knows me, he knows my problems.  Just get me some more free stuff, get more involved in my life and my paycheck and I could care less where this country is going or what we leave behind for future generations.

It appears that most of us no longer believe acting responsibly with honor and imagination can get us to where we want to be.  We don’t have any hope.  We no longer believe in ourselves.

We cannot do it alone because there is something unfair about America.  Mr. hope and change from four years ago is gone.

Gone but also never really existed.  Does getting Obama elected give you hope or does being American give you hope?  Were you more hopeful for election night or for the future?

On election night we said the future mattered, but we didn’t vote for it.  We voted for a man instead of an idea.

We rejected the dreams and beliefs of America for a guy who makes us feel good.  In four years he can never serve as president ever again.

Who’s going to make you feel good then?  Where is your hope going to come from after that?   

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