America has long been considered the land of freedom and opportunity. People outside of this country believe that they can have an equal shot at success and live in harmony with others. This idea is strongly expressed in the book Rights of Man by Thomas Paine where he enlightens us about America’s greatness and how it is the prime example of wealth, democracy, and peace. He claims that the poor are not oppressed nor the rich privileged and that there is no cause for riots and tumults. This might have been the case back then, but these ideas do not hold true today.
The United States is not a country where riots are not provoked because of recent events like the Charlottesville riot and the many anti-Trump protests that are occurring because of injustices in our society. In Charlottesville, North Carolina a group of white nationalists gathered for a rally, many of whom are neo-nazis and Ku Klux Klan, supporters. Meanwhile, another group of counter-protesters had also formed in the city, there to stop the white nationalists from speaking and an outbreak of violence started. (nytimes.com) Seeing people fight because of the core belief of our country, that all men are created equal, is controversial and will bring much turmoil to the public. Back when the Constitution was created, people believed these words and lived them out, but as time has gone on these ideals have been put aside.
Paine was also incorrect in stating that the poor in America are not oppressed and the rich are not privileged because of the struggle that low-income students face when entering college due to the influence the wealthy has on politics. An article featured in the Ann Arbor News, written by Lauren Slagert, states how there are many factors that contribute to the increased difficulty low-income students face when applying for college. Many of these students have parents that did not attend college, so they are unfamiliar with the application processor finding financial aid that is strongly needed. The wealthier part of the population also has a larger say in politics than those who have a lower income. In an article by U.S. News, it is revealed how political supporters with the greatest access to candidates are normally the wealthy, top 1% of American society.
There have always been many factors that divide the classes of American society, and they haven’t just gone away over. In different areas including Sarasota, Florida and Lawrence, Kansas, they are making it illegal to be homeless. (nationalhomeless.org) For this reason, a person can be arrested anytime and anywhere just because they do not have a place that they call home. This gives businesses and anyone the chance to dial the police and have a homeless person removed from an area, even if they are causing no harm and space is not being used for another purpose. America has tried to solve this problem by opening up homeless shelters and charities for poor families, however, most homeless shelters are only open at night and charities can only support a small percentage of the homeless population.
Thomas Paine believed in an immaculate America where the rich and the poor were treated and represented with equal respect and where peace was prevalent throughout the whole of the country, but as nice as that sounds, it’s just not true. With the riots in Charlottesville, the anti-Trump protests, and the large gap between the rich and poor, America still has a long way to go before we reach the utopia that Thomas Paine was describing.