The American Dream Movement
By Jen Tayabji
"I have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American Dream."
—Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963 March on Washington
Following the protests in Madison, Wisconsin in early 2011 due to the governor's attempt to take away collective bargaining rights from public workers, and then the "debt crisis" this summer, progressive individuals and organizations began organizing a new movement in our country. Rebuild The Dream (http://www.rebuildthedream.com) and MoveOn.org — along with organizations like United for a Fair Economy, the Strengthen Social Security Coalition, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Peace Action, and Institute for Policy Research — have united together to further a goal for comprehensive economic and social change through ten simple principles, in what they have developed into the Contract for the American Dream. The Contract includes protecting many current social programs, but it also goes far beyond that, to include these ten principles:
- Invest in US infrastructure.
- Create 21st-century energy jobs.
- Invest in public education.
- Offer Medicare for all.
- Make work pay.
- Secure Social Security.
- Return to fairer tax rates.
- End the wars and invest at home.
- Tax Wall Street speculation.
- Strengthen democracy.
The American Dream Movement, based on these Contract principles, is a progressive, grassroots effort to fight for the American Dream that Martin Luther King, Jr., talked of, the one many of us grew up believing in. This movement can help re-align the country with what the majority of Americans want, not just what those in a position of power benefit from.
This movement is especially beneficial for veterans in the US as it fights to protect social programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — which many veterans use and on which many veterans' benefits programs are modeled. It calls for an end to the US's current wars, bringing the troops home, and reinvesting that money into our country. The majority of Americans want to end the war in Afghanistan and even more want to end the war in Iraq. We as taxpayers are spending more than $169 billion dollars on those wars alone this year. It costs $1 million dollars to keep one soldier in Afghanistan for a year, but that money is not going to those soldiers (some even qualify for food stamps). We have troops returning home after serving our country to find that they cannot find a job or that they may be redeployed. Many are waiting to access services through the VA. Many others are being denied benefits they were promised or are entitled to.
It is time to do right by our veterans and by the working class in our country. It is time to return our country to a point where we know our children and grandchildren will have better opportunities than we have.
The preamble to the Contract describes this notion in better words than I could ever write:
"We, the American people, promise to defend and advance a simple ideal: liberty and justice... for all. Americans who are willing to work hard and play by the rules should be able to find a decent job, get a good home in a strong community, retire with dignity and give their kids a better life. Every one of us — rich, poor or in-between, regardless of skin color or birthplace, no matter their sexual orientation or gender — has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That is our covenant, our compact, our contract with one another. It is a promise we can fulfill — but only by working together."
For more information, to view the Contract in its entirety, and to sign the Contract for the American Dream, please visit http://contract.rebuildthedream.com/.
Jen Tayabji is a Community Organizer with Champaign County Health Care Consumers (CCHCC) and co-organizer of CCHCC's Campaign for the American Dream. She is also the Executive Director of the Illinois Disciples Foundation. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.