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American Political Culture

US Government and Politics

American Political Ideals

Summary American Political Ideals

Equal Opportunity Versus Equality of Outcome

In American political culture, political equality also commonly means equality of opportunity: All people get the same opportunities to compete and achieve in the world. Some people will succeed and some will fail, but most Americans believe that everyone, no matter what, is entitled to the opportunity to succeed.

Most Americans oppose equality of outcome. Under this system, the government ensures all people the same results, regardless of how talented or hardworking they are. Most Americans consider this unfair because this system means that talented and diligent people do not get the success they deserve.

Example: In the United States, the government tries to ensure equal opportunity among its citizens by giving everybody access to a solid public education. For example, President George W. Bush and many members of Congress championed the No Child Left Behind Act, passed in 2001, because the law aimed to give all American students a good education. A good education gives people the ability to compete for good jobs, which means that they can achieve success if they so desire.


Most Americans believe that democracy is the best form of government and therefore tend to support policies that protect and expand democracy. The importance placed on democracy in American political culture usually appears in domestic politics, but sometimes a desire to spread democracy to other countries drives American foreign policy.

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