Characterization of America | Teen Ink

Characterization of America

March 2, 2021
By serenapei123 PLATINUM, San Jose, California
serenapei123 PLATINUM, San Jose, California
24 articles 5 photos 0 comments

Revolutionary ideals from the 18th century were certainly flattering but not always consistent with reality. Intellectuals who supported the independence of America from Britain often wrote about their future dream of what the nation would look like. One such intellectual, Thomas Paine, conveyed his ideas of how government and diversity would function in the new country. Paine’s characterization of America holds somewhat true today in the division between the poor and rich, distribution of political power, and diversity of citizens.

There are clear separations between the poor and rich in America today. Some places are highly populated with homeless people, and others belong to citizens of lower wage class. Most of the time, we see mansions built next to mansions, and apartments built next to apartments. This congregation of similar economic status is evidence of divisions between the privileged rich folks and the poorer citizens. Education is another significant area in which the rich are offered better opportunities than the poor. For example, private high schools are made more available to the rich because they can afford to pay for a better education. Meanwhile, people who can not afford to pay for education remain in public high schools, which provides less facilities and worse environments due to less funds. Many poor families are unable to send their children to college because of the tuition, while rich families can afford the best education. Although the poor are oppressed and the rich are privileged in many cases, this does not completely disagree with Thomas Paine’s characterization. We see the rich donate money, food, and clothes to the poor, which is somewhat a symbol of unison. However for the most part, there exists a gap between the rich and the poor in modern America.

The political power in America is controlled mainly by rich, white men and women from privileged backgrounds. These mayors, Senators, and government workers sometimes act on self greed. Often times they treat issues from the perspective of rich families only because they grew up in that type of environment. This inconsistency in representation sometimes leads to heated reactions from regular citizens. Once in a while, there are indeed riots and tumults held against the government. So, the government is not completely just, and actions from the citizens who disagree with the government do still exist today. Furthermore, the taxes are quite high, in contrast to Paine’s assertions. However, the taxes on lower income families are less than taxes on higher income families, which to some level demonstrates justness from the government. 

It is true that our nation is extremely diverse in a variety of aspects, from religion to ethnicity to culture. In fact, America is the most diverse country in the entire world. People immigrate from other nations in search of freedom and better opportunities. There are people of different religious affiliations and cultures who work together in the same space. Clearly, America is a union of people from all types of backgrounds. However, not all parts are brought into “cordial unison,” as Paine stated. For example, movements such as Black Lives Matter have erupted from incidents involving interactions between different racial groups. Movements such as these greatly disrupt the unity of the nation as people begin to take sides on an issue, which then turns into online or even physical violence. Ultimately, the freedoms given by the Constitution divide the people in the country on controversial topics. Therefore, Paine was right in that America would be diverse, but he was wrong that all the parts would live in complete unison.

Paine’s views of America’s social classes, government, and diversity were only sometimes consistent with reality. His ideals seemed unrealistic and unpractical, but is something we can strive for as a nation. For example, we can start including people of different ethnicities and backgrounds in our government, or doing things that would unite people of different economic classes. 

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