The American Dream Is Personal

Interview with Senator Ben Cardin

This afternoon we interviewed Senator Cardin, who has held his seat in the Senate since 2007. Our interview with him was short, only thirty minutes. Senator Cardin has been a chairman of the Helsinki Commission since 2006, and in 2015 he was named the Special Representative on Anti-Semitism, Racism, and Intolerance for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, a position he still holds. During our interview, Senator Cardin discussed a number of interesting topics, one of them being a bill that the state of Maryland just passed that allows people to work in public service for the government for a year as a way of getting into college. 

When asked what he thinks the American Dream is and whether or not it’s achievable for our generation, he said that his idea of the American Dream is “personal” and comes largely from his grandfather. He told a story about his grandfather selling vegetables from a small cart that he would push down the street. Because of the war in Europe at the time, his grandfather had to decide whether to stay in Europe or move to America. He chose to start a new life in America and work hard to create opportunities for his children. Senator Cardin stated that wants everyone to obtain their own version of the American Dream. I asked him a question about our generation and the number of new and complex issues that affect our future. In his response, he said, “do jobs or engage in hobbies that will make you happy” and to “work hard to meet challenges.”

-Peter S.

Isaiah Orozco

Today I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Senator Ben Cardin, a senior US senator from Maryland. I was extremely inspired by what he had to say to us. What stood out for me most was what he had to say about the American Dream: “I think the American Dream is personal, and it is achievable for everyone, but you must work for it.” I found Senator Cardin to be very easy going and open minded. An example of his open mindedness was the way he described working with Republicans in the Senate, many of whom hold very different views from his own. When discussing a recent gun bill that became law, he stated that although it was not everything he wanted, it was far better than nothing, and passing it required cooperation and compromise: “Did I think that was enough? No. Was it progress? Yes. Do I think more needs to be done? Yes, but progress is better than standing still.” I completely agree with his perspective, because we cannot wait around for the perfect gun law while horrible shootings continue to occur, and it is better to fix only part of the problem than to fix none of it. 

Finally, Senator Cardin had plenty of advice for us in the interview: “Expect the unexpected,” “Find out what really satisfies your psyche,” and “You have a lot of time left, so focus on what makes you happy.”