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The Cohen Journal

Document Type

Article

Abstract

The United States was founded on the principles of inalienable and natural rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Out of those ideals arose the ideas of an American Creed and American Dream, which have provided aspirations for millions of Americans to pursue their dreams, and, with hard work, the chance to improve their situation in life. The fundamental values of the new American Creed became “liberty, equality, individualism, populism, laissez-faire, and the rule of law under a constitution” (Jillson 2004, 4) while the idea of an American Dream which was first instilled upon the citizens of the new nation at the close of the 18th century was the balance of “our creedal values to create and preserve an open, competitive, entrepreneurial society in which the opportunity to succeed is widely available” . Both the creed and the dream have a strong emphasis on liberty, equality, and equal opportunity, which were supposed to be guaranteed to all the citizens as proposed by the Declaration of Independence and cemented under the Constitution. But was equality and equal opportunity available for Americans if the vast majority were excluded from the political process? How did equality, equal opportunity, and access to the American Dream depend upon political participation and inclusion? They are closely linked together with fine threads and if a certain group loses their ability to be politically included, their hope and voice for equality and access to the American Dream is lost. This paper will make the argument that an individual or group’s access to equal opportunity and the American Dream is connected with its enfranchisement in the American political process