Michel J. Faulkner may have lost his bid to unseat New York City Congressman Charlie Rangel in November, but the recently censured politician could learn a thing or two about American greatness by reading Faulkner’s new book.
Restoring the American Dream encapsulates the reasons why voters haven’t heard the last of Faulkner—nor should they.
The dream in the book’s title is what makes this country unique. Man’s “natural inclinations” run toward selfishness, Faulkner writes, but the Declaration of Independence set this country apart more than 200 years ago.
“Our liberties were given to us by God and not by government,” he writes.
It’s something today’s American, particularly of the younger generation, doesn’t quite grasp. Faulkner faults the educational system for not fully preparing citizens regarding the country’s strengths and history. Too many people think the government provides them with their rights and privileges.
The author quotes everyone from the Founding Fathers to Jesse Owens, men who understood the country and its mission, to support his arguments. Citizens cannot take the titular American Dream for granted. Keeping it alive requires constant diligence.
“Every generation of Americans must fight for democracy to secure the futures of their children,” he writes. Lately, that dream feels like it‘s slipping through our fingers.
Faulkner briefly shares his own back story in Restoring the American Dream. It is a humble tale of a man who grew up with a single mother who worked hard to instill within him the right values. He didn’t have a father figure to guide him, but pooled his restlessness into athletics. He lacked raw talent, but thrived on the collegiate level all the same. His persistence led to a brief professional career with the New York Jets.
His post-football days found him working on faith-based missions to help the less fortunate, and it’s there that he found his adult calling.
Citizens today often feel powerless to affect real change in the system, not the kind extolled on a flimsy bumper sticker. And morally flawed politicians such as former President Bill Clinton, Sen. John Ensign, and former Sen. John Edwards don’t help matters. Their high-profile misdeeds leave citizens unsure of whether their votes will go toward men and women of principle.
The combination has built a disconnect between citizens and their government, which hurts the democratic system, he says.
Those who think an extramarital dalliance doesn’t matter should consider how such affairs leave politicians vulnerable to blackmailers. And shouldn’t elected officials be working on the people’s behalf, not their own unsavory appetites?
And then there’s Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, a man whose own tax escapades should have disqualified him from serving in that capacity no matter how impressive his credentials looked on paper.
Faulkner tackles the immigration issue head on, in part by sharing his wife’s immigration success story, which began in 1966. But today’s America requires a different, more concrete solution. He suggests a twofold approach—tightening the border via state-led operations, and streamlining the current process to become a legal citizen. There’s no reason law-abiding immigrants should wait up to 10 years to take the pledge of citizenship.
“We can only re-industrialize if we allow hardworking immigrants to contribute and help rebuild our great nation,” he says.
The country’s economic comeback must include the small-business person. He recalls how his mother created a modest business for herself. It didn‘t make the Faulkners rich, but it did let his mother avoid government handouts. Her business ended up doing more than feed her family—it “was a living organism that impacted many others in our community,” he recalls.
Faulkner’s home lessons also taught him what to expect as a black man in America. His mom told him to work twice as hard as his peers to make progress, a lesson infused with dignity, not bitterness.
The author’s deep sense of faith comes into play as he disputes the argument made concerning the “separation of church and state,” a phrase that doesn’t exist in either the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. He supports freedom of religion, but reminds readers that valuing liberty can’t happen without the common belief that our Creator made those liberties possible.
Faulkner isn’t blind to the country’s flaws, nor the “original sin” of slavery, which marked its formative years, as President Barack Obama so elegantly put it.
“As a truly free country, from 1865 to 2010, America is only 145 years old,” he writes. That’s why the false charges of racism against the Tea Party movement are so unjust.
He calls on white Americans to understand how painful racial discrimination issues remain for African-Americans. People of color, in turn, should acknowledge racists within their own ranks and reject those who use race to separate Americans from one another.
Faulkner felt the calling to run for political office to effect positive change in New York. His campaign may not have succeeded, but through his words and new book, he’s helping to bring “common-sense values” back to the public debate.