Congress administered a beating to some of our most deeply held American ideals in 2012, finishing off the job it started in the summer of 2011 with the debt ceiling conflict. Inflamed by Washington infighting, lawmakers and the president discarded beliefs we have accepted as truisms for generations by choosing to chart their own futures instead of America’s. During the struggle over fiscal policy, partisan positions have become so entrenched that a solution that will move the country forward is inconceivable. All we are left with is unacceptable compromise.
Five Dying American Ideals We Believed In.
As they gesticulated before microphones and fought back and forth, Washington politicians helped kill off American ideals and beliefs most of us take for granted. Here are five we will miss.
1. America is the land of opportunity.
Or at least it used to be. Judging by the threats we have been hearing from lawmakers about the consequences of the decisions they made, those days are behind us.
The only ones in Washington who aren’t willing to admit that the jobs crisis is still a crisis are the president and his Cabinet flunkies, reaffirming that we are on the right track every time the Department of Labor spits out another lackluster employment report. Meanwhile, both parties acknowledge that there is, in fact, an ongoing employment problem by charging each other with killing jobs or failing to create them. Either way, Americans got the message. We used to be the land of opportunity. We have become the land of lethal pink slips and now, in the New Year, the land of higher taxes on the middle class. Even if opportunity does knock, it might not be knocking for Americans.
2. Americans are what makes America great.
A simple concept, but one politicians have let fall by the wayside as they manipulate our illegal immigration fiasco. Americans have always been at the center of American ideals. After all, what is America without us? Ask Democrats in Congress, who are convinced that the U.S. will fail without foreign minds to stave off economic decline. Do we need to hear pronouncements like this from Steny Hoyer, incensed about last year’s failure of the STEM Visa Bill?
Mr. Speaker, in order to compete in today’s global economy, we need to attract the best and brightest math and science students from around the world.¹
We had already heard the Democratic party line on who the best and brightest are from the White House, working with Homeland Security on last year’s move to grant STEM visa extensions (see: Competitiveness Means Making a Buck Off of Foreign Students).
… the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has outlined a series of policy, operational, and outreach efforts to realize the potential of current immigration laws to attract the best and brightest from around the world to grow the U.S. economy and create American jobs.²
Given the failure of this administration to cultivate the business sector and Homeland Security’s role in bending immigration laws to suit the White House, part of the strategy has turned to convincing Americans that they no longer have the talent or ability to grow the economy and create badly-needed jobs. When we kissed our land of opportunity goodbye, we also said farewell to the role Americans played in creating the world’s strongest economy. What a sad commentary from the government of a country that put the first man on the moon and has been a world leader in technology for as long as most of us can remember.
3. The U.S. global leadership role is unchallenged.
Like the riches of our economy, America’s global leadership role has not been in dispute since the Second World War. An embarrassing scandal over the killing of Americans in Libya, threats of nuclear proliferation from Iran, ongoing atomic hijinks from North Korea, and our inability to deal with China’s currency manipulation speak to the decline of that role. Americans have fretted over scare stories about the United Nations taking over the internet or levying taxes, but what we should be worrying about is how these stories could have any credence if the global leadership role we took for granted was still intact.
4. American prosperity is sustainable.
One of our most cherished American ideals is prosperity built on the backs of hard-working Americans. Even with the prospect of brilliant foreign STEM students bailing us out, the American prosperity we used to accept without question has turned to mutterings that the future of our kids will hold less opportunity than what we enjoyed and that government debt will rid future generations of prosperity. Are the optimists who think otherwise still foolish enough to believe in our government?
5. America has the best system of government in the world.
We keep telling other countries that this is true, especially Muslim countries in the Middle East hell-bent on tearing themselves apart. Most of us gave up on our government long ago, but for die-hard optimists the last shred of hope that Washington can function in a crisis was eliminated once and for all over the holidays. Now the deal has been sealed on Capitol Hill and the middle class has been sold out. We will see less money in our paychecks in the New Year thanks to the vanished payroll tax cut, a luxury Congress deemed non-essential while special interests maintained their grip on lawmakers and the federal budget. Those spending cuts we keep hearing about that are necessary to cut the deficit and restore American prosperity? They turned into arguments to prevent cutting spending for fear of the sequester, inexplicably to save the same jobs that failed fiscal policy has been blamed for destroying.