December 1, 2014
Thanksgiving in my house was probably a lot like it is in most others. It’s a day for faith, family, food and football. It was a day to gather together under one roof and reflect on the blessings we’ve been given as a family. We were joined by my mother, and that’s a blessing in itself.
She’s seen 59 Thanksgivings since arriving in America. While the customs of this holiday probably seemed foreign to her at first, the reason for it never escaped her: Americans have a lot to be thankful for. Now, at 84 years old, she was able to give thanks for having fully realized the American Dream herself.
She and my father never got rich or famous in America, but that’s not what the American Dream is all about. They were able to find steady jobs that paid livable wages. They were able to raise their kids in a safe home, provide for our needs, and even take us on occasional trips. They were able to retire with dignity, and leave their children with lives even better than their own.
This is the dream that has defined us as a nation. My parents achieved it right here in Miami. But today, there is a growing sense among the people of our city, our state, and our nation that the American Dream is slipping out of their reach.
One study issued last month showed that in Miami-Dade County alone, a staggering 50 percent of people live either below the poverty line or one paycheck above it. Across Florida, there are two million people living paycheck to paycheck.
The difficult truth is that if my parents had arrived here in 2006 rather than 1956, they would likely be among those struggling to access opportunity and stay afloat financially. They were fortunate to arrive at a time when plenty of jobs were available to people without much education and when their modest wages could meet the cost of living.
Times have changed since then, but that doesn’t mean the American Dream has to. To preserve it, we simply have to do what every generation before us has done: adapt the promise of our nation to the realities of our times.
Over the last two decades, globalization and technological progress have transformed the very nature of the American economy, yet our nation’s policies and institutions have failed to adapt with them.
They are designed for a time before anyone had heard of the Internet. They are designed for a time when higher education was a luxury rather than a necessity. They are designed for a time when it took a trip on a jetliner to conduct business internationally rather than a tap on a smartphone.
As a result…
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