Is the American Dream Tattered Beyond Repair?

statue-of-libertyAs if there isn’t enough to worry about today, we get to listen to talking heads on both sides force feed us daily terror and sexual scandals one after the other, jamming information down our throats so fast and furious that it almost makes it impossible to distinguish fact from fiction. But don’t for one minute think that these “news” programs are meant to inform and enlighten –no sir! They are meant to bring in profits, and end up distracting you just long enough that you forget about the real problems we deal with right here in our own homes.

The fact is the middle class is shrinking every day. Income is a growing issue for many Americans who have watched helplessly as CEO pay has skyrocketed while the average Joe or Jane’s pay has remained stagnant. Many wake up every morning and put on a happy face, heading to work to trudge through another 8 hours of uncertainty if they will even be leaving with their job at the end of the day. You would figure this more perfect union that was created for the people could have gotten its act together by now. After all, we are the best country in the world — right?

If your answer is no, I applaud you. It actually takes courage these days to admit that without fear of being called anti-American or unpatriotic, but yes, it’s true. America is no longer the world superpower that it once was.

We are world leaders in very little, unless you count being number one in the world for incarceration rates. Yes, America rules when it comes to prisons and prisoners, sporting more bars, more concrete walls, and more orange jump suits than any other country in the world. It doesn’t really stop there though. We are also among the world leaders in gun ownership per capita, school shootings, reported rapes, murder rates, student loan, mortgage and credit card debt, teen pregnancy, percentage of woman on anti-depressants, lawyers per capita, and even time wasted sitting in traffic. All this sounds like the vision of our founding fathers right? Wrong!

America was founded by men who set out to create a new land free from the tyrannical, despotic rule of Great Britain, but in just over a matter of two centuries the US has become another oppressive oligarchy ruled by the royally rich. Every year it seems income inequality and wealth distribution become even more staggeringly disproportionate, as the nation’s top earners continue to control our lives through corrupt economic policy and political systems designed to keep it that way.

For a breakdown of the income gap check out this interesting graphic done by Think Progress, which should help simplify just how huge the disparity is in this country.

How does this happen, you ask?  There are many ways, but I feel the largest problems are lobbyists and money — especially since Citizen’s United has come about, allowing individuals through corporations and PAC’s  to donate endless streams of cash into the political arena. If we are looking for a solution, maybe we could start there?

Every election year candidates blaze trails and target attack ads to the country’s most popular campaign destinations with this money, promising regular citizens like us own piece of their American Dream. Lobbyists seem to come from almost every demographic ready to raise and spend money on whatever candidates pledge to support their cause. Along with those donations comes the back door promise of future favorable legislative consideration and special interest privileges. You see it time and again; campaign money being spent frivolously, if not needlessly. Millions upon millions of dollars wasted in an attempt to hold sway over this country and its population. It’s probably always been this way, but lately it just seems so much more prevalent and shamelessly in your face more so than ever before.

Quick glance at 2012’s top 5 donors from OpenSecrets.org.
1. Las Vegas Sands (Steve Wynn, Sheldon Adelson) $52,408.435 (REP)
2. Adelson Drug Clinic (Miriam Adelson) $42,040,600 (REP)
3. Contran Corp. (Harold Simmons) $31,398,368 (REP)
4. Perry Homes (Bob J. Perry) $32,662,700 (REP)
5. National Education Assn. (Pres. Dennis Van Roekel) $14,731,654 (DEM)

The Adelsons alone donated over 90 million dollars?! It begs the obvious question– is this really the best way this money can be spent? Money that could have gone to decent causes is instead going to waste. I am sure they aren’t worried though, as it’s just another huge tax deduction for them.

But what is this American Dream these politicians keep promising? Is it the house with the 2 car garage and a nice green plot of land somewhere sunny with a nice view? As we’ve been skipping merrily down our paths of ignorance, these special interest PAC’s, lobby groups, corporations and politicians have hijacked this nation with our help. In exchange for our vote they have gained control of every aspect of our public and private lives with false promises and an ideal that only through hard work and dedication to the same system that keeps us down can you ever really aspire for that dream.

I don’t know about you, but there was once a time where I bought into it. I wanted to get married, own a home, a nice fancy car, have children and then pass that dream on to them — but I don’t believe in it anymore. To this end the major corporations and their well compensated lobbyists and politicians are stealing your retirement, polluting your oceans, drinking water and air supply, incarcerating your brothers and sisters and damning our children to a bleak future. If you don’t want to believe it — well, bury your heads in the sand, but make sure to come up for air once every election cycle to vote for the slickest candidate with the biggest promises. You know — just forget about those pesky little issues.

It’s a scam they’ve designed to keep us dumbed down and obedient, like rats at a feeder bar. What they don’t know is that while they may have power in money, we have strength in numbers. We must hold politicians accountable with the very vote we gave them power with. We must be unified in our effort. Our nation was wrought with the blood, sweat and tears of many men who died fighting for what was right. Do we need more bloodshed to change the course of our history?

When will we take a stand and band together to rise up as one nation, indivisible and say enough is enough? We cannot continue to swallow political rhetoric at face value any longer. We need to demand reasonable, detailed plans based on what we the people want from those we put in place to govern us — and if they won’t do that, what will it take to make them?

George Carlin once said “It’s called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it,” and no doubt a packed audience laughed hysterically. Well America, how about we stop laughing and take our country back? Only then will our bruised, broken and badly beaten image of the “American Dream” have any chance at becoming reality.

Michael Wunderlich

Mike Wunderlich is a single father originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania currently residing in Richmond, VA.He is the founder of Center Ice News (a popular Facebook group dedicated to hockey news), and a self proclaimed professional appreciator of music and art. You can follow him on Twitter @mwunderlichFP.

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  • Portia

    DON’T BLINK! This is a thoughtful piece … and I can’t stop geeking out over the Statue of Liberty pic.

  • J

    Perfectly sums up the feeling we’ve had for years, now it’s time to take action. There in lies the hard part; still too many who are ok with living check to check and can’t take the risks to do what is necessary. But there will come a tipping point, shame we can’t act before it gets there.

  • louis

    the biggest question that is asked “will we have to shed more blood”? I hate to say it but i believe anymore that the answer is yes. Its never going to just stop. Recognition of the problem is the first step, not the last. Too many uneducated people, too much corruption, too much of a police state. Until we see people going out in the tens of thousands in every city to every political building and holding it hostage, no change will ever come. just look at the drug war. States legalize pot on their own trying to make a difference one by one, and here comes the feds and DEA saying we don’t care its our way or the highway. The same goes for gay marriage. The feds refuse to recognize each states right to self govern. The only thing for the system to do at this point, is for the rest of us to crash it. Nothing short of a total crash be it economical or what will stop this crazy train.When people are fighting back together, so poor that bands of people go to Walmart for a food lynching, or a whole neighborhood standing watch in front of the house that was just foreclosed on, will his madness stop. I will do whatever i takes. from burning Walmarts to the ground one by one, to burning McDonald’s to the ground one by one (pretty much burning anything at this point.).Too many people are dumb-asses. they think it doesn’t effect them, or they are too cowardly to get involved. Too many people are scared to take a little tear gas o ride in the paddy wagon for the right reasons. This country is not number 1, except maybe in being home to a bunch of cowards!

  • louis

    great article by the way! too bad most of the people that read it will agree and continue to do nothing. This country is never going to be able to vote its way out of this mess. Its gonna have to be taken over the hard way. Mass citizens acting as their own police. Sorry to say it, but America is not home of the brave. it has become home to the slave!

  • Diana Reichardt

    This is an interesting article. I do agree with part of it. Our country is slowly self-destructing. In part we can thank our great Congress for this mess!! Republicans are and have always wanted two classes of people. The haves and the have nots. No in between. NO middle class. Another gentleman mentions lack of education. Well, the people above are really trying to keep the less fortunate from bettering

    themselves. I agree without better education people will always be struggling with minimum wage jobs. The corporations will see to that! As far as the immigration act is concerned, I don’t want it and don’t believe in it. If it passes, it is only going to get worse. Wages will dip even lower and we already have a high unemployment rate. This will not help. Send them back and let them enter this country the way it is suppose to happen. Enforce our existing laws! Strengthen our borders and send the message that we mean business. Abide by our laws or leave!

  • Pipercat

    “How does this happen, you ask? There are many ways, but I feel the
    largest problems are lobbyists and money — especially since Citizen’s
    United has come about, allowing individuals through corporations and
    PAC’s to donate endless streams of cash into the political arena. If we
    are looking for a solution, maybe we could start there?”

    You nailed it. As bad as the Citizen’s United ruling was, the perpetual motion of Congressional lobbying is the real culprit.

  • raggedcompany

    The first thing I thought of when I saw the title of this artlcle was that George Carlin quote! I want to do something, but it all seems so overwhelming that I just don’t know where to start.