Peggy Noonan has a great piece in this weekend's Wall Street Journal about work and the American character, what it instills in us and what is missing in America now with our depressed job market.
A job, she writes, is what integrates you into society, to the national fabric of our country, and she's right.
Work earns you a reward for the blood, sweat and tears you invest into your labors. Work allows you to provide for yourself, for your family and contribute back to your community. Work, and its rewards, make you a part of the American experience, a pioneer on the road to the American Dream.
Jobs are hard to come by in our new America. Official statistics tell us that 11.5 million of our fellow citizens are without a job. That is roughly the population of Ohio. All of Ohio. Actual numbers, those Americans who have stopped looking for a job and those who are underemployed push that number much higher, likely higher than any estimate Washington will ever publish. Those Americans are isolated. Those Americans are discouraged. Those Americans are being left behind. With the reactions businesses are forced to make to onerous new Beltway regulations, more Americans are going to be left stranded, staring as the American Dream passes them by, headed down a dusty dirt road and out of sight.
Noonan argues that America needs a politician "on fire" about all the possibilities this country can offer, "someone in love with the romance of the marketplace."
America needs a leader with the spirit of an entrepreneur. A visionary looking to create a new American Marketplace, a land of dreams, of possibilities, of opportunities that can reignite our ailing country. We need a Steve Jobs, a Ray Kroc, a Thomas Edison to bring back the entrepreneurial spirit this country was founded upon, the spirit that made the 20th century the American Century.
Obviously each of those great entrepreneurs is dead, and their particular politics may have been quite insufficient to effectively run a country, but what they each shared was a vision of what could be and worked tirelessly to accomplish it, forever changing our lives. Our America has seen the birth of the phone, the internet, the computer and that amazing device most of us now carry that gives you all of that plus your favorite music, books and games in the palm of your hand - a smart phone. None of these inventions would have been possible without that can do spirit that is the basis of the American Dream, a feeling that seems to be harder and harder to find in this, our New America.
We need an American visionary at the helm to bring back that dream, that spirit and that drive that has been leeched out of us over in this stagnant "recovery."
What we have now is a government intent on watching over your shoulder and directing what it is you do as much as they can. Washington is becoming the ultimate nanny state, treating us less like its citizens and more like children it must watch over, instruct and reprimand the moment we step out of line, a line that blurs more to suit there needs each day.
Washington needs to be reminded that the American Dream is not built upon regulation but upon opportunity. We are not a society that should be penned in, encircled by the tightening grip of Big Brother, but set free to pioneer our own future providing for the growth and prosperity that only an untethered American Dream can offer us.
To fight for that future, to instill that hope in the next generation, one that is struggling to get on its feet, stuck in their parent's basement, in their shadow, jobless and drowning in debt we need a new leader. We were told that man was Barack Obama, a post-political, post-racial product of the American Dream who would provide "hope and change" to a nation that was starting to feel the effects of a serious financial crisis. He was not the answer. He is not the answer. He has provided change, but not the kind that many Americans need.
Families now face a reality where they see higher prices at the gas pump, at the grocery store and at their doctor. My own family is having to adjust our budget to the harsh reality that our healthcare costs are going to skyrocket next year, a problem confronting many families, most families across this country. Many businesses are having to shift healthcare costs to their employees, not just out of a means of protecting profits, but in order to stay afloat. In recent months we have seen major employers like UPS, Delta and common restaurant chains announce significant changes to the benefits they provide or the hours they will allow their employees to work. Decisions that have a marked impacts on a family's bottom-line.
This news has done nothing to renew our belief in the American Dream, if anything it has only served to douse what hopes many had of shaking what Peggy Noonan calls the "deflated and anxious feeling about who we are."
In an America as divided as ever between the haves and have nots, black and white, Wall Street and Main Street we need a leader, a visionary that can tow this country out of this muddy rut and back onto solid ground.
With the 2016 Presidential election two and a half years away, and no indications that we will see dramatic improvement beforehand, we are in urgent need for that political entrepreneur, someone who does not just claim to understand the plight of the American people, but someone, man or woman, that can look across your kitchen table and say, "My family has had to face the same tough choices you are. I know a way out of this mess, a path back to real prosperity, a road back to the American Dream. A country that will allow your children to succeed and flourish. One where a culture of innovation allows freedom to grow and the market to expand enabling the little guy, the average middle-class American to provide again for his family, to rejoin the fabric of society, to contribute to his community."
We cannot let history remember this as an era of America in decline. I want my son to inherit a United States where this time of struggle is considered a small bump in the road, left behind by a country that rebounded to heights not seen even in the great American Century his heroes made famous. From where our country now sits, it's a long way from making that future a reality and without a leader who possesses the ambitious vision, drive and charisma that the great entrepreneurs have, it will be tough for us to rekindle that American Dream.