Posted by Bob Lord
Throughout the RNC, we heard how someone "built that," woven into references to the American Dream. Marco Rubio talked about how his father tended bar in the back of the room so he son could one day stand at the podium in the front of the room. Was it moving? Of course. But does it mean the American Dream is alive and well? Not really.
The cold, hard reality is that more and more wealth and more and more income in America is being concentrated at the very top. As I and brighter minds than mine have written, our tax and economic policies virtually guarantee that to be the case. And without question that trend will accelerate under a Romney/Ryan administration. Ultimately, we will have a society where the top one percent live in utter opulence (we're just about there already), the next 9 percent or so (the courtiers, as Chris Hedges refers to them), live ok, and the bottom 90% struggle to make it through each day.
That doesn't mean there won't be Marco Rubios or rags to riches stories in the future. Although the odds will be stacked heavily against them, it will remain possible for ordinary people to crack the upper tier. But there will be very litte room there. When I started Law School, a professor told everyone to look to his or her right and left, and understand that one of the three of us wouldn't make it to graduation day. If the professor were explaining the American Dream, he'd tell a young college student to imagine himself in the middle of a tic tac toe board, surrounded by eight of his peers, and understand that at most one out of the entire group would break out of the bottom 90 percent. Yes, some people will make it, but life for 90 percent of us still will suck.
You see, the Republicans have distorted the American Dream. The American Dream isn't so much about the possibility of making the PGA Golf Tour, inventing the next Iphone, building a business, or winning Powerball. It's about the ability of ordinary people -- teachers, firefighters, cops, nurses, and steelworkers -- to live a good life. From that perspective, the American Dream is dying a not so slow death. The American Dream isn't about the superstars in our society, it's about the average Joe, the guy or gal who goes to work each morning and comes home each night. For those folks, the bottom 90 percent, life gets tougher each year.
The NY Times today had a front page piece about how the jobs lost in the recession largely were mid-range jobs, but the jobs generated during the recovery largely have been low-end jobs. If you do the math, you realize that even after we restore all those jobs lost in the Great Recession, the masses, as a group, will be worse off. That's the antithesis of the American Dream as we know it.
Ultimately, Republicans leaders (and many Democratic leaders) are loyal to thsoe at the top, and that's a greedy bunch. They don't want limits on how much they can accumulate, no matter how badly the rest of us have to live to accommodate their greed. Taxes should be for little people, in their minds. It's the job of their pawns, the Rubios and Ryans of the world, to sell the masses on the perpetuation of those policies that enrich their corporate masters. So Romney, Ryan, Rubio and company redefine the American Dream and sell a mirage. They hold out the possibility, the hope, that we can win the great American success lottery. And some will. But it's a mathematical certainty that most won't. And those great leaders of ours never, ever recognize that this new construct of the American Dream is guaranteed to leave most of us ever and ever worse off.