The American dream still is out of reach for millions. Systemic poverty and inequality make it nearly impossible for underprivileged Americans to do better than their parents.
Until recently, Iowa was the exception to this unfortunate truth. If you worked hard and played by the rules, you could make it in life. It’s the reason my father — despite growing up in a less-than-ideal foster home with little financial resources — is able to have a successful career as an attorney. It’s the reason my mother — an immigrant from Damascus, Syria, who came to Iowa more than 30 years ago speaking no English — is an active member of the community that has become her second home.
Unfortunately, eight years of Republican leadership has eroded this Iowan Dream. Iowa’s education system, once the golden standard, has been gutted by unnecessary budget cuts and the removal of collective bargaining rights for teachers. Moreover, 40,000 people have had basic health care services reduced by the disastrous privatization of Medicaid. This, plus a litany of other terrible legislation, has made it increasingly difficult for many Iowans to escape an unending cycle of poverty.
People have a hard time understanding how I can love this cold, flat and rural state as much as I do. It’s in part because, for years, Iowa served as a shining example of what this country could become — a place where work ethic matters more than background. Today, sadly, whom you are born to in America determines your life’s trajectory. It shouldn’t.