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Dan_Lyons's avatar

I was wondering earlier how many of you think the American Dream has died? And then I began to wonder what you think the American Dream is?

Asked by Dan_Lyons (5452points) April 24th, 2014

The American Dream. It must be different to successive generations, don’t you think?

What is the dream to you?

To me it is all about Individual Freedom (mine particularly).

What is the dream to you, and does it still live for you?

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36 Answers

Berserker's avatar

Perfect family, perfect house, perfect car. Why it doesn’t happen; define perfect, then look in your wallet.

GloPro's avatar

Success. In any form, as each individual sees it. No, it has not died.

ucme's avatar

Dying on the toilet while munching on a cheeseburger, Elvis, too young to die, too fat to live.

turtlesandbox's avatar

Making enough money in a 40 hour week to support your family, go on vacations and be able to retire comfortably in your late 60s.

Yeah, right…sigh…working till I die. And what’s a vacation?

Mimishu1995's avatar

The American Dream has not died!

Evidence: from time to time I dream of America at night. ~

thorninmud's avatar

The “American Dream” began as a promise of social mobility and meritocracy. The idea was that whereas in the rest of the world one’s social position was largely determined by the circumstances of one’s birth and little could be done to alter one’s status, America offered unlimited opportunity to invent one’s own destiny, limited only by one’s own skills, drive and character.

We still love a good story of how someone rose from inauspicious circumstances to prosperity because we really want to believe that we’re in control of our own destiny, and these stories seem to confirm that anything is possible. The dark side of this mythos is that it casts a shadow on anyone who seems to have “failed” by not rising above their circumstances; they must not have what it takes. And the flip side of that is that it can also cause those who have “made it” to fail to recognize how their success has been enabled by factors beyond their own merits.

This is all of a piece with America’s obsession with individualism. In a worldview where one sinks or swims by one’s own merits, everyone else is just so much stage dressing. That’s a shamefully self-absorbed “dream”.

While the details of what constitutes success does shift from generation to generation, It looks to me like that central premise—that anything is possible for the worthy—is still there. That’s not surprising, since this idea is a great driver of economic growth. A lot of effort goes into keeping this idea alive in the face of much evidence to the contrary.

BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

In some parts of the country (like N.Y. for instance) the American Dream is pretty much gone. when young people move away in droves due to the high taxes and starter homes starting at $400,000 I can see why they leave.

In places like Texas, the American Dream is alive and well.

Jaxk's avatar

Yes, the American Dream is still alive and well. Where we get into trouble is when we assume opportunity equals results. Just because you have the opportunity to do anything you can imagine doesn’t mean you can be successful at it. Being the best at anything (or tremendously successful) requires training, hard work, and talent. Working hard but missing one of the other two ingredients will temper that success.

Cruiser's avatar

To me the American dream is now the lack of opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility achieved through hard work made that much harder by the mega rich who now own our country and couldn’t be said better than by George Carlin

kritiper's avatar

The American Dream is :“Life, liberty, and the purfuit of happineff.”

Jaxk's avatar

@Cruiser – Carlin was better when he was doing comedy.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

@Jaxk Carlin may have been funnier doing comedy, but he has never been better than in this clip and in shows when he became a philosopher critic of the powers that be.
This reminds me of another great comedian who offered up serious critiquing of his society of the late 50s and early 60s, Lenny Bruce

Thanks @Cruiser for that great Carlin tube. The man’s a genius.

Cruiser's avatar

@Jaxk This was his first outing after completing re-hab. You can clearly see how sobriety rewired his sense of humor.

Jaxk's avatar

Sobriety is over rated.

Coloma's avatar

The American dream is now the American nightmare.
The American dream was the America of the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s when one salary could afford a nice home, nice car, boat, family vacations and pension plans, retirement security.
How I grew up as a child in the 60’s.

No more and my personal dream, that I was able to sustain for a long time, working part time in my later 40’s, decent nest egg, plenty of down time, well..I am now one of the refugees of the economic shit storm with zero hope of recovery.
I am facing a future of old age and poverty after many years of solvency.
There is no way I will ever be able to re-coop my losses and have every intention of checking when things get too hard to handle.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

I know just how you feel @Coloma I have watched the scenario changing yearly since the 50s. It’s just like the Carlin video Cruiser posted today.
I don’t know how I’m going to fare either, but I have chosen sides {the winning side} in this grand battle that the haves seemed determined to have with the have-nots, so I am a bit unconcerned as to the haves any longer.

I hope for you that you don’t have to check under your own power but get the chance to depart peacefully in your sleep one night after making love to one of your suitors.

Coloma's avatar

@Dan_Lyons I have no fear of checking out, but yes..I would prefer to have blissfully drifted away in my hot tub after some “hot” action, with a suitor. Even if that suitor was only the turbo jets hum, hum, humming away under a starry sky. lol

Dan_Lyons's avatar

^^^ Turbo jets humming can feel powerful good sometimes.

Coloma's avatar

@Dan_Lyons My point, exactly. haha

Darth_Algar's avatar

The “American Dream” is a comforting delusion that people cling to in order to ease the dehumanizing tedium of 9-to-5 wage slavery. It is very much alive and well.

Coloma's avatar

@Darth_Algar Yeah, and so is massive amounts of debt to foster the illusion.
The bank owns your house, your car, and your life. Too bad it’s illegal to sell body parts.
My Kidney for a Camry. lolol

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I honestly can say I don’t have too much to complain about. We still have it made here.

Blackberry's avatar

I don’t think I can say much that hasn’t already been said, but I think the purported American Dream is still possible, just not as extravagant as it’s made out to be.

Jaxk's avatar

It is interesting to note that 12% of American Families will find themselves in the top 1% of income earners at least one year in their life. 39% will find themselves in the top 5%. A lot of us will get there, it’s just a matter of keeping what we earned.

Cruiser's avatar

@Jaxk and that is a never ending battle…living trusts are a huge sigh of relief.

stanleybmanly's avatar

It’s all relative, and the dream is still very much with us. From what I understand, we deported a record 400,000 “dreamers” in the past year alone.

bolwerk's avatar

The American Dream is the banker’s dream to extract a mortgage from every sucker wanting to live in suburbia.

Coloma's avatar

@bolwerk Or in the country…fuck suburbia, you can find a banker to string you up on a property too. The hangin’ tree of finance. lol

Paradox25's avatar

I don’t have a materialist mindset, and my goals these days are more geared towards a life with less stress and more personal happiness over money, power and/or fame. I would still like to work in the field I went to school for, but with so many plants closing down around me, and with those employers located in areas a bit farther from me, they have become extremely picky, and it seems job competition is more prevalent today than it was beyond ten years ago.

I’ve struggled to pay my bills lately, and I’m barely even able to keep my internet service on. I did get lucky and landed a job at a small toy plant located only about 5 miles from me that pays close to ten dollars an hour. There I am, with an Associate’s Degree in electronics, and three other technical/trade certifications, and I’m working at a toy plant stuffing stuffed animals and sewing repairs, and it’s a place that will terminate you for the most minor infractions or screw ups. I’m hoping the alarm clock rings and I wake up.

I always have hope and I never stop trying, but the job market is much tougher today. I do get a few job opportunities related to my field sent to me from employers in southern states.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

The old American Dream has not died, it just got phased out.

stanleybmanly's avatar

the dream (or the memory of it) persists. It’s the “coming true part” that’s over.

Berserker's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I think the problem with the American dream is that it thinks we’re still in a time period where we didn’t have electricity yet.

talljasperman's avatar

I would like to be the CEO of Intel (or work for PBS as a science broadcaster) , have a permanent residence in a 3 star hotel, and have enough money to own my own home outright and be married and have 2 children.

thorninmud's avatar

@talljasperman Dude, sorry, we just can’t let Canadians in on the American dream. You’ll just have to settle for a functional, rational society.

talljasperman's avatar

@thorninmud O.k. the Canadian dream is unlimited Tim Hortons gift card and a high school diploma.

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