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Press Release - We Must Stop the American Dream From Slipping Away

May 06, 2015

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This is the central challenge of our time

Much of who I am can be attributed to my grandfather. As I visited him on his deathbed and as he slipped away, I held his hand and I made him a promise: I was going to study. I was going to make something of myself. I would not waste the opportunity I had to achieve my dreams. And he squeezed my hand as if to let me know he was at peace.

Every day since that day I have worked to make good on my promise to my grandfather. Like everyone, I've made mistakes and I've fallen short. But, thanks to him, to my parents, and to the promise of the country they adopted as their own, I have be able to realize his dream for me. I have a wife and family that I love. I am privileged to represent the people of Florida in the U.S. Senate and have the opportunity to run for President of the United States. My life is blessed.

What bothers me most about my country today is that there are Americans like me — Americans who have worked hard and tried to do the right things to get ahead — but whose lives aren't so blessed. Jennifer, a young woman in her twenties who lives in Miami, is such an American, an heir to the American Dream just as I am. But her life has not worked out as planned — at least not so far. She has done everything right. She has played by the rules. But she hasn't achieved her American Dream. She's starting to doubt she ever will.

When Jennifer was growing up, her father always told her that an education was the key to a life better than his own. She took him at his word, worked hard and went to Florida International University. Four years ago, she graduated with a degree in public administration. She was the first in her family to go to college. Despite having paid for what she thought was the ticket to a better life, Jennifer has begun to wonder whether college was a waste of her time and money. The only job she can find has nothing to do with her degree. Her salary is barely enough to cover he monthly bills, let alone put anything aside to save for a h ouse of her own. To make matters worse, her father recently got laid off. And because she doesn't make enough to help him out, they've had to do what too many other American have had to do: form a "multigenerational housing unit". In other words, they've moved in with Jennifer's grandmother.

A generation ago, Jennifer's current wage might have been enough for her to reach the middle class. But today, her monthly expense are prohibitive: $300 for her car payment, $200 for her car insurance, $200 for gas, $200 for food, $100 for her cell phone bill — just to name a few. She'd like to go back to school to earn a graduate degree, but she doesn't want the $50,000 in debt she would incur. She has none of the confidence, held by earlier generations of Americans, that investing in herself through education will pay off in the job market.

Like me, Jennifer grew up in a country that has always prided itself on offering an equal opportunity for its people to get ahead — not a guarantee of equal success, but of an equal opportunity to go as far as your hard work and your wits can take you. People everywhere dream of better lives for themselves and for their children, of course. Yet for the vast majority of humanity, and for the vast majority of history, this simply wasn't possible. As my grandfather never let me forget, though, it is different in America. Here, so many people from humble or disadvantage backgrounds have achieved their ambitions that this universal hope has been given a name. It has come to be known as the American Dream.

The American Dream still lives. But it is slipping further and further out of reach for millions of Americans like Jennifer, and this is the central challenge of our time. How we respond to this challenge — and whether we are successful — will determine whether we continue to be an exceptional nation. This is why I'm running for President of the United States.

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Marco Rubio, Press Release - We Must Stop the American Dream From Slipping Away Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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