The American Dream: The idea that every citizen has a chance to succeed, if he or she works hard; that each generation will do better than the last; that freedom creates economic opportunity and progress.
Throughout the history of the United States, we as a people have embraced these principles. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are our unalienable rights.
And our country has prospered, creating unparalleled economic success. American ingenuity and productivity have created amazing technological advancements and raised the standard of living, as working- and middle-class Americans have climbed the economic ladder to new heights.
Upward mobility has typically been an impressive feature of our society, where industrious individuals and families have often traded places with the very rich, making us the envy of the world.
Not long ago, however, opinion polls began to show troubling pessimism. Parents began to doubt their children would climb the ladder to success. Their children began to feel the same way. It was such conversations with many voters, coworkers and friends that compelled many to run for elected office.
After a prolonged period of weak job and wage growth, a large portion of young people today even express an appreciation for socialism, an ideology based on the notion of permanent stagnation.
Or, as the previous Obama administration called it, the New Normal.
Several “recovery summers” failed to convince millions the Great Recession ever ended. Meanwhile, Washington's K Street and Wall Street did very well, thanks to a trillion-dollar stimulus, massive federal borrowing, and myriad taxes and regulations, favoring bureaucrats and big businesses over "the little guy” without high-priced lawyers and lobbyists.
Under Barack Obama, inequality and government dependency soared, but the phenomenon started earlier.
As progressives in the U.S. rushed to imitate early twentieth-century socialists, our foreign competitors were busy imitating the same innovative, free-market solutions that helped this country become an economic leader, lowering their corporate tax rates to attract investment that belongs here at home.
A quintessential American company, Apple, relocated its headquarters abroad, because tax rates here were among the highest anywhere.
To avoid complex, costly regulations like Obamacare, other manufacturers also moved overseas. For the first time on record, in 2015, small business closures outnumbered start-ups.
More recently, though, things have started to change.
Despite a barrage of negative media, a majority of Americans now rate the economy as "good" or “great” for the first time in over a decade. Domestic manufacturing, construction, and home ownership are all up.
Consumer confidence recently hit a 17-year peak. Unemployment reached a new low, the stock market reached another high of 26,000, and shoppers reached for their wallets over the Christmas season, confident in a prosperous 2018.