In the world today, everyone and every country is embracing the spirit of capitalism and people are encouraged to create wealth and to develop themselves in whichever way they find fitting. The American Dream is a testament to governments encouraging its citizens and providing them with an enabling environment as they seek to empower themselves. However, looking back and assessing the history of the American Dream, it is appropriate to say that it is firmly grounded on the Declaration of Independence which states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The American founding fathers were convinced that the pursuit of happiness was integral and essential in the society and that the government in place was expected to protect this right. At the time of the declaration, “all men” was limited to white people who owned property but over time, there have been a lot of changes.
During his tenure, President Lincoln managed and worked hard to ensure that the American Dream included slaves. This he did use the Emancipation Proclamation and with his own declaration, President Lincoln changed the trajectory of the country. Unlike before when only the rich white men were considered to have rights and the government’s protection, Lincoln made sure that even slaves could also enjoy the same rights. While his journey to include the slaves in the American Dream was met with a lot of opposition, he eventually won and forever changed the history of the United States.
President Lincoln is not the only president who managed to leave their imprint on the American Dream. President Wilson also made sure that women could also be partakers of the American Dream. Wilson is known best for backing the 19th Amendment which ensured that women’s right to vote was instituted. Initially, women were seen as inferior beings and therefore, their voice in how the country was run or how leaders were chosen was considered irrelevant. This had always been the idea and it was almost impossible to convince men that women had equal rights to them. However, Wilson made sure that the women’s voice could be heard especially during elections. As per the American Dream, everyone can be whoever they wish to become and once this amendment passed, women started to voice their opinion in politics and slowly make their way into Congress and Senate houses. Hillary Clinton made history as she became the first woman to run for the highest office in the US. Nothing encourages people especially young girls that they can be whatever they wish to be than seeing a woman running for president and not just of any country but of the United States of America. This was a clear indication that the American Dream is and includes everyone.
The pursuit of happiness is indeed an essential part of the American Dream. When one decides to go after that which they want or need or consider important, they are indeed living the American Dream. In 1964, President Johnson worked hard to promote Title VII of the Civil Rights Act which helped to ensure all workers are protected against discrimination of any kind including race, sex, religion, color, or national origin. By including national origin, Johnson made sure that everyone including immigrants were entitled to the American Dream and that the government will protect their rights to pursue happiness. President Johnson ensured that nothing including one’s ethnical background would stop or put a dent in anyone’s Right to enjoy life, their freedom, and to pursue what makes them happy.
There have indeed been many changes in the history of the US especially when one considers what the “pursuit of Happiness” entails. For example, just recently in 2015, President Obama made sure that people could pursue their happiness irrespective of their sexual orientation. Even though the American Dream has changed, the government has tried to ensure that it continues to protect its citizens’ rights. There may have been a lot of challenges and according to history there were indeed many but the government always came out winning. In some instances, wars were fought but with odds against the likes of President Lincoln, the people’s rights prevailed.
With each passing era, there is the reaffirmation that the people’s rights will always be protected. People are growing and becoming more hopeful and the citizens are being persuaded to believe again and to not despair whenever it seems like the leadership is failing. History has proven time and again that even though there could be challenges, there are always those who stand and propel the people’s rights up high and ensure that no one including the government is able to infringe on the rights of people.
There are those who often ask the question, “Who is entitled to the American Dream?” Some people take time to answer but time and again the answer emerges as everyone including immigrants. Recently, there have been those who have been trying to say that the immigrants are depriving the natives their right to partake the country’s cake. However, even with these cries, immigrants continue to thrive in the US and some are even inviting their families and helping their siblings to have bright futures too. The truth is, the American Dream is not all about Americans and their rights but about every person’s dreams and wishes. President Obama reinforced this idea time and again and led the world towards a path that acknowledged every man’s life and every man’s pursuit of happiness. He managed to instill people with hope as well as a sense of responsibility and empowerment towards the attainment of not just the American Dream but every human being’s dream. He made the American Dream global.
Finally, for those who keep writing blogs and trying to persuade people that the American Dream is dead, I would like to let you know that it is quite alive. People need to stop looking locally and open their eyes to what is happening to the world. The policies and foreign aid from the American government are helping to enrich people’s lives all over the world. The American military has also been involved in trying to help other countries achieve their dreams. The American Dream has manifested itself in many ways and currently, it has grown to include that orphaned child in Africa or Asia or in South America who cannot fend for themselves. It has grown and while President Obama had a lot to do with this, the people’s resolve also deserves applause.