The United States of America was founded on the principle that all Americans are created equal. All Americans having the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately, the United States has not always lived up to our espoused values. In our past, many have found their right to life, liberty, and happiness impeded by hate and discrimination. Still today, both racism and other forms of discrimination exists and harm many people’s access to our nation’s fundamental social promises.
Our nation’s diversity is one of greatest strengths along with our fundamental belief in self-reliance, self-determination, and freedom. Americans must find a way to put behind us our superficial differences over race, gender, religion, or other personal demographics and focus on expanding opportunity. Our society benefits from cultural diversity and its ability to attract the best and brightest from all over the world. Our economy benefits when all can participate and benefit from our free market economy, reducing government dependence. Our elected officials need to find a balanced way to allow all Americans their rightful access to economic and social freedom.
One cannot deny that racism and other forms of discrimination still exist in our society. Even in many blue states, there are some that believe race, gender, and demographics rightfully dictate outcomes and opportunity. Some people truly believe that non-whites and women lack the intellectual ability to compete. Conversely, some minorities unfairly cast all whites as racist and bigots. There are many reasons for economic disparity, but demographic genetics are not the basis. Social and cultural norms as well as how one’s ancestors arrived in America played a great role in establishing stereotypes of groups of people and opportunities afforded to them.
There is a falsehood that identity politics will solve our issues with race and gender. Instead of retreating towards groups of people that look, act, speak, pray, and think like us, Americans need to engage and understand people with different backgrounds and viewpoints. Society cannot fight hate with new forms of hate and division. Instead, groups need to focus on our shared values and commonalities rather than obsessing over few areas of differences. With diversity, there is always potential for conflicting opinions. Being able to agree to disagree or understand the basis of viewpoints makes all better off than retreating to the comforts of groupthink.
The question for society and policymakers is how all can move forward if some are negatively impacted by past mistakes. Policymakers should not implement system where government selects winners or losers but seek ways to improve fairness and balance. Perpetual preferential problems only reinforce perceptions of inequality. Instead, focus on leveling the playing field through reducing disparities in skill development systems, aka education, and access to safe communities. Furthermore, policymakers should seek to reduce bias throughout our economy through promoting demographic neutral approaches in employment, housing, and higher education.
All Americans deserve equal opportunity to find success, based upon their own ambition, effort, and persistence. Allow all people the ability to determine their own level of success. Greater equality can positively impact our economy, as subgroups largely dependent on social programs can become productive contributors to our free market economy. As stated in Expanding Economic Opportunities, many communities have untapped potential for economic growth and prosperity for residents. The political dogma and environments need some alterations in order to improve the attractiveness and preparedness to take advantage of opportunity.
The ability to reduce federal and state spending on welfare programs, criminal justice institutions, and preferential programs can change the effectiveness of government. Instead government can focus on rebalancing investment in quality education, infrastructure maintenance, and safe communities. Many private sector institutions can expand customer bases and target markets. Industries will have new groups of investors that can innovate markets and solve many of our nation’s social problems. Expanding free markets and empowering the people will go much further than empowering the government over the people.
Despite some setbacks, society has made real progress on race relations and discrimination compared to generations ago. But those achievements are fleeting if progress is yielded because people are not truly given equal opportunity. Government should not dictate equal outcomes but give all an equal chance at success. That only happens if society expands economic opportunity to those groups previously ignored.