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American History Essay

Contents

Abstract 2

Introduction. 3

Literature Review.. 3

Analysis. 8

Conclusion. 9

References. 11

Abstract

There are various aspects that have propelled the United States of America to stand among the leading countries in the World both from social, political and economic fronts. It has been credited as being one of the highly progressive countries in the world and this could be attributed to its resilience to continuously improve itself in all manners. One common phrase that describes this country is the “Land of opportunity,” which basically signifies that it is a country where anyone who is in it has the highest rates of achieving success. This paper explores this notion from various points of view and justifies why it is commonly accepted. The supporting factors are found in its economic, political and social structure and all this contributes to the country’s prowess or success and strength in the global community.

America: The Land of Opportunity

Introduction

Some of the metrics that have been used by the global community to measure a country’s level of success include economic opportunities, equality, and liberty. If these are highly present in a country, then it can be looked at as a model of what is expected of other countries. These attributes are well displayed by the United States and have led to it being ranked as one of the best countries in the world. From an economic standpoint, the country is among the top countries in the world with one of the highest Gross Domestic Product. From a social point of view, the country, which is highly diversified in terms of race, is also a model to look up to as it has strived to achieve equality in almost all social fronts (Zinn, 2014). From a political perspective, the country is also a leader particularly in diplomacy, foreign relations as well as its objective of spreading freedom and democracy in the world. All these factors have led to the United States is greatly admired, and most importantly, to be labeled as “the land of opportunity.”

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Literature Review

To properly understand why the country has been given this title, it is important to look at some of the literature that covers the history and development of the United States from its humble beginnings to what it is today. The first factor can be viewed when the country attained its independence from England and ceased to be a colony. Those who fought for independence including George Washington sought to establish a country that would offer liberty and opportunity to all (Zinn, 2014). They endeavored to achieve this through one of the most important documents in the country: “The Declaration of Independence,” (De Tocqueville, 2016). Therefore, the country was established and its foundational principles born; they include freedom, equality, and democracy, and they have had a major contribution in helping the country to reach where it is today. Moreover, they have allowed the country to grow from a social, political and economic perspective in addition to facilitating its transition from a mere nation-state to a superpower.

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Looking back at some of the foundational principles, one can now fully understand why the country is described as a destination of opportunity. For instance, for a country to offer a sense of opportunity to its residents, there are several factors that must be present. The first factor is equality, which has already been mentioned as one of the founding principles on which America was built (Zinn, 2014). It is a widely accepted truth that America was built by immigrants, and this can also be supported by its current social structure that places it among the countries with the most diverse society (Stearns, 2015). From the immigrants who came from Europe, Asia, Africa and other parts of the world, the country has had a diverse beginning and has remained that way till today. This is why some of the symbolic attributes in the country are present such as the statue of liberty, which is viewed as a welcoming symbol to all those who come to seek opportunities in the country (Johnson, 2014).

Therefore, because the country was highly diverse from the beginning, the founding fathers sought to put in place measures that would ensure that equality was highly encouraged if not achieved in the country. Thus, the strong phrase that “all men are created equal,” was placed in the declaration of independence as a guide to how the American society should be governed (Johnson, 2014). For this reason, the country has sought to achieve equality through legal approaches by having various legislations in the constitution that would strive to make this highly diverse society fair in terms of how it treats its citizens. This is possibly one of the reasons why the country is a preferred destination for immigrants who seek either equality or economic opportunities.

There is also the aspect of democracy in America that also makes it an admirable destination. In most cases, the country has always strived to put its direction and objectives in the hands of the people (De Tocqueville, 2016). This is why various critical issues have always been decided either by the citizens or their representatives. For instance, the country’s leadership is always elected through nationwide voting, and this gives the society the democratic freedom to decide who they want to lead the country (De Tocqueville, 2016). This starts from the top leadership positions such as the presidents to the lowest levels of leadership. Additionally, it gives the people the power to control the direction that they would want to take on an issue that affects them. Moreover, through referendums and other approaches, American society has been able to shape how the country should be governed.

Besides, democracy can also be viewed from another perspective; for instance, each state, though belonging to the national entity, is also independent on various levels. For example, it gets to set up its own state laws, and also works to achieve some of the objectives that the people have decided on. Thus, though not completely autonomous from the entire nation there is some freedom that each state is given, and this proves highly effective in fostering democracy in government (De Tocqueville, 2016). Therefore, from a democratic point of view the country has made great strides in trying to achieve democracy. By allowing or placing most power in the hands of citizens through avenues such as voting or legislative representation Congress, the country has enhanced the level of democracy that the people are exposed to in a way that makes it a model to be emulated by other countries.

Nevertheless, one may argue that the main reason why the country is termed as the land of opportunity is the economic system that has allowed its citizenry to flourish and made it a model economic state for the rest of the world (Atack, 2014). The country has grown from an economic standpoint to become a leading economic player in the global society boasting of having one of the highest Gross Domestic Product in the world. This is because of several factors that have facilitated its economic growth, one of the main ones being capitalism (Johnson, 2014). The country has always fostered economic growth by taking up a capitalistic approach to economic development. Unlike other countries that took up socialistic approaches such as Russia or China, America has favored capitalism and free enterprise, and this is one of the factors that have led to the massive economic developments it is experiencing today. Through a look at its economic history, one can see how capitalism and free enterprise have contributed to both social and economic development in America.

From an economic standpoint, one can see the growth of great corporations that have provided employment opportunities to society and revenue to the country in terms of tax remittance thereby immensely contributing to the country’s growth (Atack, 2014).  When one is studying America’s economic development, various names come up, some of which include entrepreneurs such as Rockefeller, Morgan, and Carnegie among many others who have driven the country to great heights. The companies created by these pioneer entrepreneurs, who achieved this amount of success because of the country’s acceptance and upholding the spirit of free enterprise, have greatly contributed to the American economy (Johnson, 2014). They have allowed the continuous growth of the country and this is also an attractive factor that enticed various individuals from different countries and regions in the world to come in search of economic opportunities in America.

By attracting individuals from various parts of the world, and offering them economic opportunities, the country has also become a hub of creativity, innovation, and most importantly entrepreneurship. This is possibly one of the reasons why firstly, the country is labeled “the land of the opportunity” and secondly, it has experienced immense economic growth throughout its history (Atack, 2014). Consequently, many individuals from other parts of the world view it as a place where they can achieve success. Coupled with hard work and determination, this mentality is responsible for allowing these individuals to grow and achieve economic success. There is also the fact that as a leader in the economic playing field, the country attracts the best talent and minds that the world has to offer. Therefore, when such individuals come to the country and they contribute their talent, skills, or knowledge, the country is positively impacted, thereby contributing immensely to growth (Johnson, 2014). It is for this reason that some of the best innovations and businesses that have shaped the world can be attributed to the entrepreneurial spirit of American citizens. In addition, because the country offers all these opportunities, there is a never-ending cycle that sees individuals come to the United States with the hope of succeeding in life. When they do the country on a larger scale also tends to succeed.

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Meanwhile, all this economic growth is not possible without various social and political conditions that are present in the United States. For instance, if the country imposed limits on aspects such as personal liberty and free enterprise among other crucial factors, it would not be able to achieve the economic success that it evident today. Hence, while it is important to acknowledge the economic factors that have led to the growth and development of the country, it is also necessary to look at the social factors that allowed this achievement to become a reality. For instance, socially driven economic growth is not possible if people’s rights are being violated in the country (Atack, 2014). The country’s citizens must feel that they are free to achieve some of the objectives that they have set out to accomplish. All this is enshrined in the legal framework of the country through elements such as the Bill of Rights, Equal Opportunity legislations and bodies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the U.S. Constitution itself.

Arguably, advocacy for social and economic freedoms has continued to enhance the notion that the country is a destination for greater opportunities in the future. For instance, American citizens take pride in the fundamental freedoms and liberties they enjoy in their countries such as freedom of speech, the ability to ‘pursue happiness,’ equal treatment before the law, and civil rights (Zinn, 2014). These factors create an environment in which citizens are able to work towards self-achievement/development in a manner that directly contributes to economic growth and development. America has also worked hard to try and spread these values, especially equality, freedom, and liberty, to the rest of the world (Nuechterlein, 2015). Therefore, one would now understand why the country is seen as a model of democracy from a global perspective as well as a hub for opportunities. By extension, the reputation eventually attracts migrants from various parts of the world to come in the hope of contributing to and sharing in the country’s success.

Analysis

It is imperative to support some of the factors that have contributed to the rise of America with credible data which may demonstrate why the country has become a global leader on both social and economic fronts. Firstly, one has to look at the economic growth that America has experienced in order to understand why it is viewed as a destination where anyone can achieve economic success. According to the International Monetary Fund (2016), the United States ranks at the top in the list of countries with the highest GDP, with a current standing being $18.5 trillion. This tremendous level of economic prowess is attributed to the country’s strong frameworks and systems for supporting economic growth. For instance, through legislative interventions, the country has always sought to improve the economy by providing conditions that would foster high employment rates as well as investment. For this reason, the United States is ranked as one of the lowest-ranked nations in terms of unemployment in the world. This situation can also be attributed to the various initiatives that the government has always set up to reduce unemployment particularly in the wake of the recent global economic recession (Atack, 2014). For example, it provides various types of subsidies to local companies with the aim of helping them to grow and to employ more people. This is one way of addressing unemployment, and it has been effectively used with tremendous success. Furthermore, there are other measures being put in place to ensure that aside from just being employed, individuals are actually benefitting financially from their work, with an example being the setting up of minimum wage.

As see from the above examples, it is evident that the country has developed economically to become a land of opportunity where individuals can come and improve their lives. Another approach that can be taken to justify the country’s dominant position in terms of economic development is the number of large and powerful companies that have emerged. For instance, many of the world’s largest companies are America-based. For this reason, they offer various benefits globally and more importantly, at the national level. For example, when one analyzes companies such as Coca-Cola and Wal-Mart which are some of the leading companies globally, he/she can trace them back to the United States. This shows that the country supports free enterprise and hence, it is an economic hub that offers various opportunities to citizens and foreigners alike. From a political perspective, it has also been recognized as a leading country that is respected for having one of the largest defense budgets as well as the strongest militaries in the globe (Nuechterlein, 2015). It has also endeavored to grow its stature by ensuring that regional political stability is achieved in all regions even if the path towards the achievement of this goal means providing some of them with the much-needed military help. Therefore, it easy to identify the economic, social, and political reasons why the United States can be looked at as a model for economic growth.

Conclusion

To conclude this discussion, it is evident that socio-economic and political aspects or attributes present in the United States have led to it being termed as “the land of the opportunity”. Evidence of these attributes will continue to attract individuals from various regions in the world, thereby enhancing the country’s stature as one of the most diverse societies in the globe (Omi, & Winant, 2014). The socio-economic framework that is present in the country also supports the accessibility of vast opportunities to those that reside in it. For instance, from a legal point of view, as mentioned on various occasions in this paper, it emerges that America has sought to achieve various objectives that create the right environment for social progress. Among them are freedom and individual liberties which allow individuals to pursue ambitious goals for social progress. The American government has also been taking measures to produce economic growth through progressive policies and actions (Atack, 2014).

Thus, from its humble beginning in the end of the 18th century up to today, America has posted growth on political, social and economic fronts. This progress is worth admiring because it has led to improvements in the lives of millions of people. Hence, it is not shocking to see various individuals constantly migrating into the country in search of a better life. This is a highly expected phenomenon in any nation that offers its citizens numerous opportunities while at the same time giving them the liberty to pursue their interests. Therefore, as a final remark on this issue, countries the world over should look up to the United States and pick out some lessons on how it has become a highly successful country in today’s global society.

References

Atack, J. (2014). America: Capitalism’s promised land. The Cambridge History of Capitalism, 1.

De Tocqueville, A. (2016). Democracy in America. Irvin, CA: Xist Publishing.

International Monetary Fund. (2016). World economic outlook: GDP (nominal) ranking 2016. Retrieved from: http://statisticstimes.com/economy/countries-by-projected-gdp.php

Johnson, H. B. (2014). The American dream and the power of wealth: Choosing schools and inheriting inequality in the land of opportunity. London: Routledge.

Nuechterlein, D. E. (2015). America Overcommitted. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky.

Omi, M., & Winant, H. (2014). Racial Formation in the United States. London: Routledge.

Stearns, P. N. (2015). Teaching the United States in world history. Teaching American History in a Global Context, 120.

Zinn, H. (2014). A people’s history of the United States. New York, NY: Pan Macmillan.

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