There is a constant refrain I hear at tea party events: “I fear my country, the America I love, is slipping away.” Is it possible that we are witnessing the incremental end of the American experiment? Is something formless and hollow replacing the land of the free and home of the brave?
I often hear people say the American dream is out of reach for their children: “They will not live as well as we have,” they worry. For many, there appears to be public disorder in the form of a grasping government and cultural fragmentation. Defining deviancy down — to use that well-worn Moynihan expression — seems to breed downward mobility and financial strain. This in turn seems to promote social dislocation and a working class transformed into an underclass.
There is little doubt that Americans have become more dependent on government to do the things they once embraced. Every discussion I’ve ever had about charity ends with the claim the government must do more to assist the poor. The idea that communities assist their own without government intervention is becoming a foreign concept.
And yet all is not lost despite the validity of some of these claims. Economic order can be restored if we have the will to do so. It will require belt tightening, a realistic assessment of public liabilities, and, most significantly, patience, since this is a problem that emerged over decades. Despite an unprecedented rate of illegitimacy, there are stable families in this land and these families need encouragement and support. This is a nation of families; to neglect them or deride their importance only serves to batter the building blocks of society. There are immigrants who want to be American. They want to share our values, speak our language, hold on to our Constitution, and admire our traditions. These are the people we should welcome to our shores. All is not lost.