Individualism is defined as a social theory advocating the liberty, rights, or independent action of the individual; the principle or habit of or belief in independent thought or action; the pursuit of individual rather than common or collective interests; egoism; individual character; individuality; an individual peculiarity.
Today, the closest people come to individualism is to post something on Facebook. However, this should not be confused as being true individualism – it is narcissism. Facebook posts and YouTube videos do not pay the bills and define the entire person.
A recent report indicated that one in five Americans are on Medicaid and one in six Americans are on food stamps. About 13 million Americans are on welfare, 6 million Americans are receiving unemployment, and millions more are receiving disability. Anti-poverty programs make up better than one sixteenth of our GDP and total government spending makes up nearly one third of our GDP (local, state, and federal). In fact, over 35% of all Americans were on some sort of welfare program in 2013. That’s more people on welfare than who are employed full time! I am for helping a person in need, but these programs are exploding because a vast number of people remain on some sort of government welfare program their entire lives. People on welfare are certainly not defined as being “individualists” since they require the help of the government to survive. A true individualist would never accept any government subsidy for any reason (and yes that includes government programs such as cash for clunkers and subsidies for buying a home). A true individualists’ always earns their keep.
The statistics are even worse when it comes to Americans belonging to clubs or organizations. Fifty million Americans belong to a health club alone (80% of all people cannot work out without someone dictating / motivating their work out) and it is estimated that over 90% of all Americans belong to some club or organization (NRA, GOP, Democrat, health, Unions, etc.). And let’s face the fact; over 90% of these individuals are followers and had no input in club rules, laws, and regulations. Hence, they are not individualists because they cannot think, act, or advocate for themselves.
Today, people are not defined but instead groups of people are defined – White, Black, Hispanic, Male, Female, Gay, obese, smokers, etc. This is another function provided by our government. The government no longer represents the individual, they represent the group. Since most individuals cannot afford to lobby for themselves they must join a group to afford lobbyists and have not their voice heard, but the voice of their group. Unions are great example of this, but there are also environmental groups as well as ethnic groups such as the NAACP. The media also likes to classify groups of people. The media, like political parties, love to pit different groups of people against each other: rich v. poor; big business v. poor; black v. white; pro-abortion v. pro-life; environmentalists v. big oil, female v. male, and so forth. This, of course, makes it harder for this country to overcome bigotry, racism, and stereotypes because we classify groups of people instead of seeing the individual.
What has led to the decline in individualism? The answer is easy – political progressivism has created an atmosphere that people are no longer smart enough to think for themselves so they must have a union or have the government do it for them.
Hoover is probably the last president to preach individualism, but he quickly turned progressive after the depression hit. Coolidge is probably the last president to actually preach individualism and have his policies targeted to that philosophy. Coolidge was a progressive to a certain degree, but he felt that the best kind of progressivism was individual progressivism. Individual progressivism is where people worked hard to better themselves over the course of their lifetimes. This country would be better place if even a small fraction of Americans would live their lives in accordance with the life of Coolidge and his rules of individualism: refusing to join clubs and organizations, living with a balanced household budget, living within our means, leading by example, taking the high road, practicing what they preach, and never taking any government funding.