Under Republican and Democrat policies in Washington, particularly accelerated in the past five years, the United States meritocracy has given way to an aristocracy.
Only those of means can get ahead. Increasingly, they view their role as making life comfortable for the less well off instead of enabling the less well off to become well off. Wall Street, banks, major corporations, politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists, and the rich are the only ones who can prosper because they are the only ones who can either navigate the system or afford to pay others who can figure out how to navigate the system.
For the rest of Americans, from small business to the middle class, the only path is one of dependence on a governmental structure too byzantine to figure out and, should one be smart enough to figure out, too costly through litigation, regulation, and complication to navigate through.
An America where, as Lincoln said, every man can make himself, is replaced by an America where men are made by how the government takes cares of their individual circumstances. Students are no longer trained to be creative, entrepreneurial citizens, but to be workers for others. The self-employed are encumbered to the point of needing to be employees of others. The nuclear family is disincentivized and destabilized.