Liberty, equality, and equal opportunity for all are at the core of our values as Americans. None of them misrepresent what our country believes in, but they are very baseline ideas. “Freedom” is a very top layer value in my opinion, and yes, our country gives us certain freedoms to ensure our liberty but I would argue that one of, if not the most important American values is individualism.
Individualism is a “political and social philosophy that emphasizes the moral worth of the individual” (Lukes, 1). In individualistic societies, people tend to favor freedom of individual action over collective control. Whether this will work forever or not is a different story, but for now, that’s where we’re at. If we like to admit it or not.
Our economy is probably the best example of how individualism influences the United States. Statistics show that in the past few months, the net worth of America’s billionaires has risen 15% from 2.9 to 3.4 trillion dollars (Beer, 1). And at the same time, 40% of people making under 40k a year lost their jobs in February alone (Beer, 6). With a mixed economy like we have, and with little financial aid available from the government, personal economic growth and self-sufficiency are encouraged and expected.
The only way these numbers are possible is because individualism supports the idea of big business. You get what you deserve, if you “make something of yourself” congratulations. Now all that’s left to do is reap the benefits of a system that helps the rich grow richer and the less fortunate to fend for themselves. It’s a solo race to the top in America, and many wish for it to remain that way.
There are many other values our country holds dear, but the most profound is individualism. This idea also explains how many Americans may view society in relation to themselves, “people in individualistic cultures view themselves separately from the group” (“Personal Space and American Individualism”). I believe that to be very true of the USA and its people, but, in my opinion, if we viewed ourselves as a collective rather than apart from the group we would be much better off in the future.