Opinion: When Americans Dream, Is This What They Have in Mind?

The “American Dream” may be a problematic concept, but everyone in this country and around the world knows exactly what it means. And truth be told, everyone wants to believe it: If you are determined and work hard enough, smart enough and long enough, you can achieve anything in this land of unlimited opportunity.

Opinion: How Did the FBI Become the Counterculture?

In her 2014 book “The Burglary,” Betty Medsger recounts the barely believable true story of the band of anti-Vietnam War activists (pretty ordinary-to-the-eye citizens, some married with children) who broke into the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, in 1971 and discovered some dirty secrets compiled by J. Edgar Hoover and the agency he ruled.

That the FBI, then most known for its practice of seeing a subversive under every bed — and placing a tape recorder there — would now be considered a haven for left-wing radicals is astounding.

Opinion: To Make Government Work, You Have to Respect It

Explore any part of the vast expanse of the Western United States, and you are sure to stumble across a plaque affixed to the corner of stone stairs leading to a pathway through a national park or monument. You will no doubt get similar unexpected knowledge from a sign hanging on the wall of a library in small-town America.

Things Americans take for granted, many of them, were financed by the federal government, built by U.S. workers, grateful for the Depression-era lifeline provided by the Works Progress Administration. Many of the roads, bridges and sidewalks that crisscross cities in every part of the country share the same provenance — the federal government everyone complains about.

It all works, somehow, until a shutdown, the latest version of which ended almost before it began. And boy did everyone breathe a sigh of relief when they learned the (much maligned) post office would keep sending and delivering through rain and hail, sleet and shutdown.

Opinion: Forgetting What It Means to Be an American

The 2004 romantic comedy “50 First Dates” offered a novel, though somewhat implausible, premise — and I don’t mean that Drew Barrymore would find Adam Sandler irresistible. The heroine of the tale, afflicted with short-term memory loss, woke up each morning with a clean slate, thinking it was the same day, with no recollection of anything that happened the day before.

Who knew the president of the United States, most members of a political party and White House staff would suffer from the same condition?

Opinion: Why Oprah in 2020 Is Both Blessing and Curse for Trump and the GOP

It didn’t take long for “Oprah in 2020” to start trending after the one-named icon’s stirring Golden Globes speech on Sunday night.

Perhaps not surprisingly, considering his gift for exploiting political and cultural fault lines, one of the first to connect the media and philanthropic queen to electoral gold was none other than Donald Trump, who has said in the past that the two on a presidential ticket would win “easily.”

Maybe the president really is the “very stable genius” he says he is.

But did Trump also see her as the competition that could be his undoing?

Opinion: Will African-American Female Leadership Move Into the Spotlight in 2018?

It’s kind of a pattern. In tangled tales of the intersection of racism and sexism, women of color are depended upon for the hard work but pushed aside for recognition.

Opinion: Thinking Small When the Big Picture Looks Cloudy

Polls that show a view of Congress mighty low and sinking fast invariably find voters more satisfied with their own representatives. Thumbs-down verdicts for Washington and the “swamp” in general often turn rosier when dealing with particulars.

That fact, plus gerrymandered districts and restrictive voting laws, is reason enough for Democrats to be cautious when predicting a 2018 blue electoral wave. Americans are thinking small these days, preferring to stick with the familiar and close-to-home when confronted with issues that gobble up all the oxygen in the room and the brain.

At the least, taking time for family, home, neighborhood and church is one way to make sense of life and change the things you can, as the famous “Serenity Prayer” counsels. It’s the opposite of traditional advice to look at the “big picture” for perspective when little things don’t go your way.

Opinion: The Commandments According to Roy Moore Take a Hit

In the Alabama Senate race, both sides went to church — Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones took their appeals to their faithful, which, for the most part, worship the same God but came to wildly different electoral conclusions.

On Tuesday, Jones won. The miracle of a Democrat winning a statewide race in deep-red Alabama actually happened. It was not the divine intervention Moore had prayed for, perhaps pointing out the danger when you so shamelessly use the word of the Lord to divide.

Opinion: The Need for a Royal Distraction on This Side of the Pond

Though it was heresy in some quarters at the time, I cared not one whit when Prince Charles took Lady Diana Spencer as his bride — and yes, it was pretty much him choosing her as a suitable spouse. I did not indulge in the ritual some Anglophile friends bragged about, setting clocks to wake up to view the 1981 spectacle in real time while nibbling on some British-like snack.

I did not care about the carriage, the bridal party or the design of the wedding dress. These were folks with a guaranteed income, home and life, and I had more serious concerns.

Opinion: Will Tax Bill Open Church Doors Wider Still for Politics?

A place of worship has never been completely clear of politics in America. But that physical and spiritual space for contemplation and reflection may grow smaller still, and moments without intrusion from the bitterness and division in the world could grow shorter.

Tucked into the House version of the tax plan that Republicans dearly crave as “a win” is a provision that would remove a check on places of worship — churches, synagogues and mosques — and some nonprofits. The in-danger Johnson Amendment of 1954, one with more intent than teeth, supposedly prohibits pastors and other faith leaders from endorsing or opposing political candidates from their perches of religious authority or risk losing their tax-exempt status.