Like it or not, identity is at the core of our politics. Who you are and what you value drives the whole thing.
Recently, Senator Elizabeth Warren (DMA) capitulated too the demands of President Donald Trump’s demand for proof of Native American heritage, by publicizing the results of a DNA test.
This is not the first time Trump (and many others) have demanded some sort of proof of identity — we cannot forget the enduring “birther” conspiracy demands for a “long form birth certificate” that followed former President Barack Obama throughout his presidency.
Given the history and structure of our country, there will always be an undercurrent of those who demand the highest of proof for citizenship and identity, often on the basis of some purity of heritage or circumstances of birth.
Let’s ignore it. However, I do think we need to acknowledge the presence of such forces to actively ignore it, to make a point of removing platforms for such heinous demands. Instead, let’s move upward and forward.
Pew Research surveyed adults on their thoughts regarding the “American Dream” last year.
Despite a lot of warranted pessimism in our news cycle, 46% of Americans say they are “on their way to achieving [the American Dream],” compared to the 36% who feel as if they’ve achieved it and 17% who say it’s out of reach.
Even as factors of life get more severe, such as rising income inequality or a worsening climate, perhaps these numbers speak to a special kind of optimism.
I decided to talk to a few of our peers on how they feel about the American Dream. I asked them about how they identify, what they care about, what the American Dream is, and if they think it’s something attainable.
Kailen Roop (‘21) talked about a personal mission to make the world better.
“If I were to say one thing that made me who I am…in a word I’d say empathy,” she said. “I’d like to be able to say that I made a difference.”
Roop expressed some pessimism about the attainability of the American Dream for everyone.
“When I think of the words ‘American Dream’ I think about opportunity,” said Roop. “You can’t really be focused on finding your intellectual foods when you can’t find food every day.”
Max Carey (‘21) felt his goals fit the mold. “I really want to do something medical when I leave Alma; I have these goals for myself,” he said.
“I’m white, I come from a middle class family… do I think it’s achievable for me? I think so.”
Carey hoped for more equal opportunities for everyone in the future.
“You would like to think [that everyone has equal opportunities], but things are definitely not equal for everyone. There are people seeking to change that, I’m glad that there are,” Carey said.
Most of these conversations I had were brief, but incredibly meaningful. As you navigate through your week, ask a friend what keeps them going, and what the big picture is for them. Maybe you’ll be surprised. You certainly won’t regret it