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The death of American excellence

OpinionThe death of American excellence

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Have you been to a restaurant, hotel or other service provider recently and it seemed like nobody cares? Are you concerned to fly with the fuselage blowout of a Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft in flight? Do you wonder why Gen Z has pioneered trends like “quiet quitting,” “lazy girl jobs” and “soft saving”? 

It all goes back to the death of excellence in America. And, unfortunately, it has been an intentional shift.

America has always stood as a bastion of freedom and opportunity. It has been heralded as a unique locale, where regardless of where you came from in life or even geographically, if you worked hard and smart, you could seize the American Dream.

An American Flag

An American Flag flies at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, June 30, 2009. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

The backbone of this has been individualism, which celebrates, incentivizes and duly rewards people based on their merits, creativity, work ethic and unique talents. But there has been a progressive campaign to systematically destroy individualism and the unparalleled positive outcomes that accompany it. 

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Today, according to a recent ABC News/Ipsos poll, only 27% of Americans believe they can still achieve the American Dream.

Progressives have worked to supplant equality of opportunity with equity of outcomes. As is perfectly illustrated in the famed Kurt Vonnegut short story “Harrison Bergeron,” that means penalizing the individual, unique strengths that help contribute extraordinary outcomes that everyone can benefit from. 

This is accomplished by taking away any unique advantage that someone has, something that makes people have more similar outcomes, but ultimately makes everyone worse off. 

In their pursuit of mediocrity, progressives have also worked to supplant the individual with the collective. Now, instead of being judged by what you accomplish, by your character and actions and the things you can control, you are now judged as part of a group – often one that you do not get to choose. 

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Your immutable characteristics as part of a collective are now your measuring stick, a sick game that creates more losses than wins, as well as inferior outcomes across the board.

It’s no wonder that individuals are demoralized and don’t seem to care about anything. It’s by design. 

When merit isn’t rewarded and is sometimes penalized, what incentive is there to do your best? Incentives drive outcomes, yet students who are high achievers are seeing their advanced classes taken away and colleges rejecting them based on not having the “desired” immutable characteristics.

Businesses are shifting bonuses and other compensation away from success measures, such as contributing to growth, profit or shareholder value in favor of progressive goals related to their social justice wish lists, such as climate or equity. 

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Moreover, government and Fed fiscal, monetary and other policy have manipulated the ability to achieve the American Dream, rewarding the already wealthy, not based on merit, but on political clout and connections, at the expense of the rest of Americans. 

It’s not hard to wonder why Americans, particularly young people, would be demoralized and not want to go the extra mile. 

Even immigration policy has been bastardized to this effect. Talented, high-skilled workers are not able to get visas to come to the U.S., but millions of illegal immigrants, most of whom appear to be unskilled and are here not for asylum but rather for financial opportunity (ironically the same opportunity that is being killed), have breached the border illegally without recourse. 

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There’s plenty of blame to go around. Parents that enable a mediocre existence and over-coddle their children are to blame. The school system is to blame. The government and Fed are to blame. Corporations are to blame. These entities have been captured by progressive cultists who have a variety of perverse reasons for pushing their agendas.

But the reasons and the blame don’t matter. What matters is what we do now. 

We need to return to an America that values a hard day’s work, one that incentivizes people to share their unique capabilities and one that keeps the playing field fair and even for everyone to be able to participate in the American Dream, should they put in the effort.

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We have real models of what happens when the pursuit of excellence is thrown by the wayside. That is an existence of mediocrity. But America can’t exist as mediocre – the likely outcome will be far worse. 

America owes it to its citizens, and to the world, to return to not only the pursuits of life, liberty and happiness, but to the pursuit of excellence. That is the path to return to prosperity for all.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM CAROL ROTH 

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