In renovating the American social contract for the twenty-first century, the American people can be inspired by the successes of their predecessors in fulfilling what Herbert Croly called "The Promise of America…the opportunity which it offered of economic independence and prosperity."
The social contract in the United States continues to enable Americans from all backgrounds to realize their potential and fulfill their dreams. Just as political rights have been widened since the founding of the Republic, so access to opportunity repeatedly has been increased to include many who were previously excluded. Ambitious, capable and dynamic strivers make up the citizenry without which a democratic republic cannot function or endure.
The American social contract is far from perfect. And it must constantly be updated in response to everchanging conditions. But for all its provisional nature, the social contract has been remarkably successful. "America is another word for opportunity," Ralph Waldo Emerson declared. By renewing the American social contract, we can ensure that America and opportunity continue to rhyme.