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Has America Lived Up to the Ideals of Declaration of Independence?

The Declaration of Independence was a groundbreaking document, which stated the fundamental ideals upon which the United States was founded, and announced the colonies’ separation from British rule. In the document, Thomas Jefferson stated that all men are created equal, endowed by their creator with inalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. He also wrote that governments derive their powers from the consent of the governed, and that it is the right of the people to alter or abolish a government that fails to protect these rights.

But has America lived up to these ideals?

Historical Perspective

It’s important to understand the original intent and ideals behind the writing of the Declaration of Independence. The document firmly established the belief in individual liberty, democracy, and equal opportunity – things that would go on to become central to America’s identity. Many of the basic tenets of the Declaration laid the foundation for the US Constitution, including the separation of powers, federalism, and the protection of liberty.

However, it’s also important to note that at the time the Declaration of Independence was written, there were some discrepancies between the document’s ideals and the practices of the founders themselves. For example, at the time, slavery was legal in many parts of the US, and many of the founding fathers themselves were slave owners. This has led some to question whether they truly believed in the ideals expressed in the document, or whether they were simply using them as a tool to challenge British rule.

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Analyzing the Present

Fast forward to the present day, and it’s clear that American society has changed significantly since the Declaration was written. While the values such as democracy, individual liberty, and equal opportunity are still central to America’s identity, the country has made great strides in achieving these ideals in practice.

For example, the US has made significant progress in expanding voting rights and political participation, with the passage of legislation such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The government has also made strides in protecting the civil rights and liberties of all Americans, including those from historically marginalized communities.

However, there are still areas where American society has fallen short of the ideals outlined in the Declaration. Economic inequality, for instance, remains a significant issue, with many Americans struggling to access basic necessities such as healthcare and affordable housing. In addition, there are still significant disparities when it comes to race, gender, and sexual orientation, with many Americans facing discrimination or unequal treatment on the basis of these factors.

The Future Outlook

Despite these challenges, there is still hope that America can continue to move closer to the foundational goals laid out in the Declaration of Independence. This will require a concerted effort from all members of society, including policymakers, activists, and ordinary citizens.

Some of the changes that would bring the country closer to these ideals include reforms to the criminal justice system, the expansion of social safety nets such as healthcare and housing, and the dismantling of systemic barriers to equal opportunity.

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Key Takeaways

  • The Declaration of Independence established the foundational ideals upon which the United States was founded, including individual liberty, democracy, and equal opportunity.
  • The document influenced the US Constitution and laid the foundation for many of the country’s core political beliefs and values.
  • While America has made significant progress towards achieving these ideals, there are still areas where the country has fallen short, including economic inequality and disparities based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
  • To bring the country closer to the ideals espoused in the Declaration, policymakers and citizens will need to work together to dismantle systemic barriers to equal opportunity and ensure that all Americans have access to the basic necessities of life.


Q: Was the Declaration of Independence a legally-binding document?

A: No, the Declaration was not a legally-binding document, but rather a statement of intent and ideals.

Q: Did all of the founding fathers believe in the ideals espoused in the Declaration of Independence?

A: While some of the founding fathers were slave owners, many of them did believe in the ideals outlined in the document. However, there were definitely areas where their practices did not align with the document’s ideals.

Q: What can ordinary citizens do to help bring America closer to the ideals espoused in the Declaration?

A: Ordinary citizens can play a critical role in pushing for policy changes and social reforms that will bring the country closer to these ideals. This might include voting, participating in protests or other forms of activism, or simply speaking out in support of policies that promote equality and justice.

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