A Blog by Jonathan Low


Mar 31, 2011

The American Dream: Do Americans Think It Is Still Achievable?

The American Dream means different things to different people, but the general thesis harks back to the demand for the right to 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' from the Declaration of Independence. More recent accretions to The Dream have had to do primarily with economic well-being and specifically, that each generation could expect that the next generation would be more affluent than its predecessor. As this page has discussed before, the 30 year run of socio-economic dominance the US enjoyed after WWII came to an end in the late 1970s. The US is still one of the most affluent countries on earth, if not the most. However, the passing of generational superiority and the loss of utter dominance clearly does not sit well with some, as the following survey results suggest. The question is what this will mean for the political process, global peace and prosperity.

In the interim, it is interesting to learn that there is an institution devoted to The Dream. We look forward to their further insights.

Michael Ford at The Center for the Study of the American Dream:

"The Second Annual State of the American Dream released by the Center for the Study of the American Dream shows that Americans, and particularly immigrants, are keeping the American Dream alive, despite economic and job turmoil, three simultaneous US wars, intense institutional distrust, and natural disasters.

With a defiant optimism, 63% of Americans still believe that they will achieve their American Dream. For first and second generation immigrants, that number is even higher at 70%.

This is remarkable, as the survey also reveals that the very institutions charged with safeguarding the Dream--those who govern us, who employ us, who take care of us, and inform us, are wholeheartedly distrusted by substantial majorities.

• 83% distrust the political process in general.
• 79% distrust big business and corporations
• 78% distrust government
• 72% distrust the media.

These institutions appear to be piling onto our chances, rather than protecting them-- in other words--- the American Dream is held dear by individuals; it takes a village to ruin it.

How is this distrust articulated in the survey?

• 54% believe that "their freedoms are being taken away."
• 76 % "do not believe that the world looks up to America like they used to."
• 65% think the country is "in decline."

These are staggering numbers. No partisan interests benefit from these findings. It’s a resounding wake-up call for all political parties and everyone engaged in public life. It's a pox on all houses. To preserve the Dream, these institutions must win back the public’s trust.

Simply put, the American public trusts no one, except themselves. That's not the way it's supposed to be.


Post a Comment