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August 2nd, 2010
11:36 AM ET

What happened to the American dream?

Jamal Simmons
Special to CNN

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Jamal Simmons, a former adviser to the Democratic National Committee and several Democratic candidates.

Pundits and politicians alike opine that Washington has not been focused enough on jobs, and President Obama sought to expand the jobs agenda Thursday at the National Urban League in a speech on education.

The president is right to do so, but he needs to communicate with the American public in an inspirational way about how Americans can create a better future.

In the national immigration debate, the president offers a "pathway to citizenship" for those here illegally. It is time he also offered a "pathway for citizens" to reclaim the American Dream.

Americans are clearly distressed about an unemployment rate that hovers just below 10 percent, but our anxiety is not just about jobs. In a Xavier University poll, 60 percent of respondents said it has become harder to reach the American Dream than it was for their parents' generation, and two-thirds said it will be even harder for their children.

Another 58 percent believe that America is now in decline. If the greatness of America is like sand slipping through our collective fingers at the beach, voters might be angry because Washington doesn't seem too focused on stopping it.

The national anxieties are clear. Income disparity is growing, and in addition to the millions of jobs the U.S. has lost, schools are woefully under-preparing American children for global competition.

We spend too much money buying oil from too many places that cause us too much trouble, and our dependence on it is poisoning our environment.

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