The story of the scrappy underdog who overcomes obstacles and rises to the top is one that is distinctively familiar to the American psyche.
It’s a story we hold dear, the embodiment of the hopes and ambitions that living in this country allows us to foster: the American Dream. This cherished idea is the life story of Nevada assemblywoman Lucy Flores (D).
Flores was one of 13 children, raised by two overworked and overwhelmed parents. Her mother left the family when Flores was nine, leaving her husband to pick up more jobs and Flores to assume responsibility for the younger kids.
Flores turned to local gang members for support, ultimately landing her in juvenile detention for an auto-theft felony. With the help of an invested parole officer, Flores turned her life around, eventually earning her GED and law degree. In 2010, she was elected to the Nevada State Assembly. Now, she’s running for Lieutenant Governor.
Flores is an indispensible voice on the stage of American politics. Stories like hers are becoming more and more scarce. The American Dream is becoming little more than a trite, patriotic phrase to be tossed around during stump speeches.
As the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, a new gentry is forming. As it is, the majority of those making up our government are rich, educated, privileged white men.
Unless we put measures in place to even the playing field, many intelligent and talented people with the same humble beginnings as Flores will continue to slip through the cracks.
American government has to be as varied and colorful as the constituency it represents. A homogenous ruling body can only govern from one perspective, and not one that the majority of American citizens share.
But the American Dream is useful only so long as it’s achievable. It can be hard; we don’t mind hard work. But it has to be doable. Otherwise, this beloved melting pot of ours will be run only by its richest few. And the Lucy Floreses of tomorrow won’t stand a chance.