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Opinion: A Step Forward And A Step Back For The American Dream

The Buck Starts Here

In many ways August 15, 2012 was a day like any other this summer. It was hot. The drought continued to plague our country. The economy struggled to continue on the slow path to prosperity.

But two things that happened yesterday illustrate the two directions we are headed in this nation.

There is much conversation today about the American Dream. Will it be available to the babies being raised today, the kids in school, even the kids that have graduated college and are struggling to get started in their careers?

While it may seem far off, better days are ahead. In the early 1990s people were asking the same questions. We were shaking off a sluggish economy; not knowing that one of the greatest economic expansions in our history was around the corner.

The generation that is coming of age today in America may hold more promise than any generation that proceeded it. They have grown up surrounded by technology. They are prepared to see new possibilities and innovate as our nation has in the past.

They are also the most diverse generation in the history of this planet.

Race, gender and sexual orientation are seen differently by this generation and they are most likely to allow anyone to succeed or fail on their merits.

The world view of the millennial generation is unique.

Part of that generation has lived in the shadows.

But yesterday, tens of thousands of young Americans stood in line to try to take part in the American Dream. Born abroad but brought to America as small children, they know no other home. While others may call them foreign, they feel as American as anyone else.

The program puts in place aspects of the DREAM Act that allows young undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as children to apply for relief from deportation if they came here under the age of 16 and have lived here for at least five years. They must be under the age of 30 and be either an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or armed forces, or a student who has graduated from high school or obtained a GED and does not have a criminal record.

By putting in place the provisions of the DREAM Act that the Administration could they sent a clear message: if you do the right thing, the decisions that others made for you will not hold you back.

It was touching to see pictures of the lines of young people that, perhaps for the first time, felt that they really belonged where they were raised. They were being given a chance to succeed like their peers.

It is these kind of events that keep America moving forward.

On the same day, an entirely different vision for America was coming to fruition. A judge in Pennsylvania let stand what may be the most egregious attempt at voter suppression in a generation.

Putting aside that Pennsylvania Republicans have said that they passed a voter ID law to swing the election to W. Mitt Romney the judge let stand a law that threatens to disenfranchise 750,000 eligible voters.

On election day, thousands of Pennsylvanians – some young and not having a license that matches the current address they are renting, others homeless Vietnam veterans and others elderly Americans that have voted for close to three quarters of a century but are now in elder care or just don't have an ID because they do not drive – will be denied their right to vote and with it their say in America.

The American Dream is not under threat because of future entitlement costs or current economic woes. The American Dream is under threat because some in this country prefer to move it backwards in an attempt to consolidate political power or cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

That is not a dream. That is a nightmare.

About Bill Buck

Bill Buck is a Democratic strategist, President of the Buck Communications Group, a media relations and new media strategies consulting business based in Washington, DC, and Managing Director of the online ad firm Influence DSP. He has over twenty years of international and national communications experience. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.


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