It bothers me when people talk about the “old America” as if we’re regressing as a nation. I do not believe that we are regressing. This Business Insider post argues with charts and graphics that America is not the shining land of liberty it once was. I disagree, and I would like to state that however often I complain about the United States, it is still the greatest country on earth.
The article discusses first how, in the past, “the fruits of people’s labors accrued to the whole country, not just the top.” That’s not true. Hard work and labor have always benefited white Protestant men (for example: “Irish Need Not Apply” signs in the nineteenth century, “White-Only” signs in the twentieth century, the simple fact that we had to create a Fair Pay Act in the first place). Secondly, since the seventeenth century there has existed a disparity between rich and poor (for example: industry tycoons at the turn of the century versus the plight of the working class…and slavery).
Today, all American citizens can vote, it’s unlawful to discriminate based on anything aside from experience and skill, and we’re getting closer to securing basic rights (like marriage) to the entire population. This is the best America the world has ever seen. We’re living in tough financial times, as is much of the world, but just because some people out there make billions doesn’t mean we aren’t America anymore. And it definitely doesn’t make us “un-American” as the post argues.
Certain injustices prevailed in the past just as much as they prevail today. This country has been working on its imperfections since its inception because improvement and progress have been the driving forces behind American prosperity since our Founding Fathers crafted the Constitution.
Here’s what’s un-American to me: Anyone who has become so discouraged and hopeless with today’s financial injustices that they are willing to suggest that the United States is in a steep and steady decline with no prospect of recovery. We are not great, but we are still pretty good. We are not the best we can be, but we’re much better than we’ve ever been. And, yes, right now we have a long list of things to figure out and “fix,” but America is not beyond repair.
America is still America. The way to restored greatness isn’t to look backwards but to look forward (this is why I believe in the Democratic Party platform). Because…who the hell would want to live in a country where women can’t vote, or where people of color can’t find good work, or where homosexual acts are punishable by law, in the “old America”?