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How much progress has America made since the mid-1970s at ensuring freedom, equality,...

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How much progress has America made since the mid-1970s at ensuring freedom, equality, and opportunity for all people in this country, regardless of an individual’s social class, gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation?

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This is a question that has many different aspects and many different sides to it.

In some ways, we have done a tremendous job of providing these things to these groups.  Women have many more opportunities and freedoms than they did 40 years ago.  There is much less overt racism in the United States.  Gay people are much more able to live their lives openly than they were in those days.  It seems that, by any measure, the US is a place where there is more justice with regard to race, sex, and other categories than ever before.

However, there also ways in which we have apparently failed to provide these things.  For one thing, our country seems to be dividing to some degree on the basis of class.  Marriages among people of the middle to upper classes, those with college degrees and good jobs, are numerous and relatively stable.  Meanwhile, the lower middle class and below get married less and are less likely to stay married.  This makes it harder for them and their children to have true opportunities.  We have done very badly in pulling what was once called the “underclass” out of poverty.  Gay people still have to fight for the right to marry.

Thus, we can see that we have made great strides in some ways, but are not doing so well in others.

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