2013 robbed us of the American Dream. Can we get it back in 2014?

A troubling sign of lost faith in America's future: Our birth rate has fallen each year since 2007. Population growth is the slowest since the Great Depression. Photo: Happy Family by Vera Kratochvil, www.publicdomainpictures.net

WASHINGTON, December 31, 2013 — We have lost faith in our country’s future. Fewer of us want to bring children into the world, even to be born into America, widely celebrated as the greatest nation of all time.

Too many have been robbed of the American Dream. For them, a larger family is too much when other burdens grow heavy.

When the Census Bureau announced Monday that population growth has slowed to its lowest since the Great Depression, many rushed to proclaim it is because of the economy. But were that so, the dip would have been during our recession and not during our recovery.

The best symbol of hope in the future has always been the willingness to have children and raise families. In 2013, we lost more faith and trust in America’s leaders and it shows in the shrinking desire to make the sacrifices of parenthood.

Here are the worst-ever years of America’s population growth:


Annual Growth





























*Population loss in 1918 was from the global pandemic of Spanish Influenza, when 50-100-million lives were lost worldwide.

U.S. births in 2012 were 3.9-million, the lowest since 1998 when our population was 270-million, compared to 317-million on January 1, 2014. Births have been declining each year since 2007.

Why are Americans discouraged and why did this worsen in 2013?

And is there hope for 2014 and beyond?

We’re discouraged because our leaders and institutions have let us down and made things worse. Plus the tools for fixing the problems are broken. Politics has become so slippery that laws, elections and courts are used to manipulate us, not to empower us.

The 2012 election was so negative that many millions were sickened and stayed home. In 2013, millions more became ill as this reality became clear: President Obama used big lies to get re-elected and the White House constantly engaged in propaganda and deception.

Congress is likewise in disrepute. Washington remains a favor factory. Politicians constantly use weasel words to avoid saying anything concrete. Courts run roughshod over voters if they express their will, such as on marriage. New individual rights are “discovered” to restrict our collective right to govern ourselves. And since President Obama won’t enforce all immigration laws, states are told that they cannot either.

Americans watch and wonder whether anybody will even try to require Obama to follow the laws and stay within the bounds of his Constitutional authority. But he’s protected by the Senate and courts are little help; they’ve created elaborate barriers that block citizens from challenging their government.

As they’re trying to shoulder the burdens and understand the confusion of government, everyday Americans—the backbone of the country—get worn out and worn down. When they hunker down from necessity, they often lose the faith that it takes to expand a family.

Meantime, government is a wrecking ball. It destroys family budgets, driving up costs of health care, electricity, food, consumer credit, appliances, gasoline, light bulbs, and more. Job creation suffers not only from Obamacare but from stifling red tape. And don’t forget taxes.

Government points fingers to protect itself. But the mortgage meltdown that toppled our economy began not with Wall Street, but with federal edicts that home loans must be given to people who could not afford them. And similar edicts are being re-created even now.

One right we thankfully retain is our right to be disgusted and disillusioned. Politicians, TV talking heads and radio hosts pretend they’re sharp technocrats who know how to fine-tune and fix things. They demonstrate by spouting numbers that confuse us but rarely inform us, as though life were measured by statistics: Unemployment, stock prices, public opinion polls, government spending, food stamps, cost-of-living, fiscal cliffs, and bending cost curves.

But expressing that disgust and disillusionment can get you in trouble. The Tea Party movement gets mis-branded by the politically-correct as racist and reactionary, investigated and repressed by the IRS, and denounced even by Republicans who have learned to maneuver within big government and to gain advantage from crony capitalism.

Government is used to re-distribute wealth and advantage and to give things away; no longer to stand for principles, keep order and guarantee equal opportunity. Politicians who give things away can buy votes, but eventually they run out of other people’s money. Even then, they appeal to greed by promising to take from some to give to others.

Some claim we’ve gone so far down this path that we cannot recover. Beaten down, too many Americans have accepted the Hillary Clinton approach, reasoning, “What difference does it make?”

Even if we won’t see the difference, we must make the sacrifices so that our children will know the difference. We must plant the seeds and nourish the crops that will be harvested by others. That is what prior generations of Americans did.

There is no answer that originates in Washington, DC. There is no answer that originates at any level of government. The only answer is to accept a challenge: Will we become better individuals, strengthening first ourselves and our family, then our neighbors and our circle of friends?

We cannot lose righteous indignation but we must not let anger dominate us. We must take time away from things we enjoy to inform ourselves better—from multiple sources, not only those with which we agree. The American people have been mis-led by politicians, media and many in education. We must accept a role as teachers of principles, as the Founding Fathers were. If we speak only in anger and accusation, we will limit our audience and we will not correct the course of the country.

In 2014, we must commit to rely less on government, but more on ourselves as individuals—and as families.

Sacrifice has become a taboo word. But it wasn’t taboo to Ronald Reagan, as he closed his first Inaugural Address with a challenge to overcome the crises of that day:

“It does require … our best effort, and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together, with God’s help, we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us.

“And, after all, why shouldn’t we believe that? We are Americans.”

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Ernest Istook

Ernest Istook spent 25 years in public office, including 14 years in Congress. He was rated one of the top 25 conservatives in the U.S. House of Representatives. Then was a Heritage Foundation fellow and a fellow at Harvard's Insitute of Politics, where he led a study group on Propaganda in American Politics Today. 

Now as a radio host and a commentator, Ernest aims to expose Washington's gimmicks--to help you avoid the pitfalls. He brings clarity out of the confusion. 

Native to Texas, Ernest transplanted to Oklahoma after graduating from Baylor University.

Contact Ernest Istook


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