The Betrayal of the American Dream Essay
The American Dream incorporates a set of principles in which to be free means an opportunity for success, prosperity, and positive social mobility attained via hard work. As argued by Adams, life should be fuller and richer for every American, with opportunity for everyone according to achievement and ability regardless of birth circumstances or social stature. Nonetheless, it appears to be a difficult dream, especially to the upper classes, with regards to its interpretation. Evidently, many Americans have already grown tired and mistrustful of the dream. In essence, the American Dream is not just a dream of high wages or motor vehicles merely; it is a social order dream where every individual is capable of attaining the fullest stature and be known for what they are despite the many fortuitous circumstances.
Is the American Dream attainable by all American citizens? According to some, the dream has turned into being a hunt for material prosperity. Here, people pursue more jobs and more hours to own fancier homes, bigger cars as well as food for their respective families, yet they have less time to enjoy this form of prosperity (Smith 47). According to others, the dream is beyond the grip of the poor who have to look for two or more jobs to ensure that their families survive. Still, others seek for a novel dream with less emphasis on material wealth but more on pursuing a simple and fulfilling life. Is this the American Dream?
What, precisely, makes up the American Dream? As things stand at the moment, progressives have faltered the meaning behind the phrase “American Dream” with an aim to advance the America founded by the Forefathers. According to their thinking, the American Dream entails increasing government-coined rights and benefits. Yet, the initial American Dream touched on the lives of people and not just the government. It was all about Americans living beyond the government – politicians were people’s employees and not the other way round as it is now. A democratic public is envisioned only via a weak government but a strong people. The government should be so weak to the point where the average individual would not dare even think about the existence of the government.
In simple terms, the American Dream as envisioned by our Forefathers was that every person has the God-given right to his liberty, life and pursuit of happiness – devoid of any form of interference. It is quite unfortunate that top in government’s agenda is wealth redistribution. As it appears, through subsequent brainwashing, people who have become dependent on government benefits have failed to comprehend that no cause should validate the infringement of the rights in addition to freedoms stipulated above (Schnell 322). It is time that everyone rejected the notion put forward by progressives that the Dream is about receiving security, privileges and benefits from the government of politicians. The American Dream should entail liberty. In essence, the foundation of the American Dream proffers that liberty has to be placed higher up there than the rest of the objectives.
In essence, the underlying premise of this Dream is that liberty be given a higher priority compared to any other objective. The government has the mandate to protect the god-given rights that every human being inherits during their birth. America’s Founding Fathers never envisioned that the government will be the one to give rights to its subjects. Their main objective was to limit the powers of the government. This is what gave birth to the famous American Dream. Any law that permits allows the government to take people’s property without their permission no matter what, is immoral and unconstitutional.
Presently, the American government is still winning its tender offer to American citizens: security in place of freedom. Any sensible American should ask himself or herself: Are these government benefits worth if it is likely that future generation may live in a police state due to the financial breakdown of the American economy. The American Dream should never be a collective understanding (Ringer 117). On the other hand, self-responsibility is the foundation of the American Dream. Americans should draw the line and say enough is enough – they should take the country away from the politicians and the few who control it. The alternative is to be ready to renounce for eternity the remaining liberty claims. The struggle against totalitarianism should be a generational issue. Therefore, it is the turn of the current generation to fight for what is rightfully theirs. Vigilance is the underlying ideal here. In the end, freedom has either to be attained or lost forever in the attempt.
In this view, America’s greatest hope is dependent on teaching the younger generation the real and underlying facts. It is crucial that this vibrant generation learn to uphold and respect the right and freedom of all the men and women to seek their happiness without any form of interference from the government (Hernandez 126). To those concerned with the idea of making a more just and democratic society, the present perception of the American Dream should be very much troubling. This is because the term has practically created the most immediate ideals of the American identity, yet it evokes very limited critical reaction regarding the roles played by the structures in detailing the outcomes of personal lives. As it appears, there are three options for those who want to correct this form of injustice. The first option is that Americans continue to live with the dream as it currently is – here, inequality is as a result of a distinction between a person’s trait, talent and characteristics. This appears to be an option adopted by many in the GOP.
The cost of following this path is evident in most literature of leading economists. According to their sentiments, the country is every day becoming an economic caste social order, thus rebuffing the poor and those in the lower classes the opportunity to chase and attain the American Dream. The second option is that the American people seek its fundamental commitments to fair play and equal opportunity giver the popularity and dominance of the American Dream. However, it is important that everyone participates in critical reflection before going down this road. Those who support this option, upon reflection, suggest that people conclude that the American Society has certain flaws (Cullen 221). This means that the federal government should adjust and readjust certain laws to ensure that everyone pursues the American Dream without limitations. This appears to be the underlying claim as made by those who participated in the recent Occupy Movement in the US.
This is more promising than the first option; however, it is still short of making America a complete just society. The first issue with this option is that though it makes certain alterations to the basic societal structure, it would still entertain gross inequalities, which will then continue to undermine individual chances in becoming successful. The second issue is that despite focusing its attention on the basic societal structure, it undermines the role that individual citizens play in attaining and preserving justice. Basically, this version of the American Dream still comes out as too individualistic to uphold human values. Its aim is to remedy the basic societal structure so that the talents, character, and traits of an individual end up being the determinants of life.
The third option involves embracing the dream but radicalizing the way we understand it. Here, the American Dream is not viewed as a gullible appeal to the status quo. The American Dream should be used to reshape the American society together with its ideals. Americans should use it to air their most deeply rooted values (Chong 423). Just as Martin Luther King stated, the American Dream should be derived from the definitions present in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Americans should strive to maintain the freedom they had during the nation’s beginning. Nonetheless, realizing the American Dream has gone beyond the ideals present in the Declaration of Independence and related documents. The dream should go beyond securing the critical conditions of equality and freedom for every American citizen. It should rise above the hazy idea of equal opportunity to something that is more substantive.
The bottom line of this whole issue is dependent on the American citizens. They bear the responsibility of ensuring that America is a more just country. The American Dream should never be about determining who the losers are or who the winners are; it should be about a person’s right to uphold the fruits of his achievements and toil (Caldwell 253). The oppressed groups have the mandate to comprehend the levers of power before challenging them. Power in the current society appears to be indistinct and obscure. However, they can be traced to the forces referred to as economic, ideological and political. Basically, it is the responsibility of every American citizen to work towards building a just society. Therefore, if Americans want to see a secure justice for all, they should strive to ensure that everyone has a basic means of survival. America has a wide wealth gap, thus people need jobs and more jobs. What is currently happening is that jobs are being outsourced to outside countries such as China. This is nothing short of greed for money.
The main thing here would be to end the bleeding of manufacturing sector jobs. It is essential to rebuild America’s middle class if people want to see a significant reversal to the American Dream (Barlett and Steele 45). As some would suggest, of the entire economic issues affecting the middle class, taxes should be the simplest to remedy: taxes should be used on upper-income taxpayers. Consequently, the move would do away with the inequity that is currently evident. The underlying idea here is to ensure that the middle and working class are not overburdened with taxes. This would ensure that every American has a basic means for survival. This way, the government would not use the situation to control its citizens, thus a move towards a just society.
The American Dream is all about true prosperity for all – never about false prosperity attained via government schemes. It is never about infringing the rights of American citizens for a cause that is deemed worthy of self-appointed moralists. The American Dream is about the natural right of a person to pursue liberty, a successful life, and happiness. Democratic service, as proposed by Martin Luther King, should mean a collective way of exercising the little power that people hold so to challenge the power levers (Adams 113). Here, power sets the norms, values and the ends that a specific society abides by. The values get to promote a society that is more just if the values are just in themselves. On the other hand, if they are unjust, they end up creating a society that is unjust – much of what we currently see at the moment. The contemporary understanding of the American dream has led to the creation of an unfair society. Those with the power and mandate to change and remake the American society that upholds democratic values and norms must do so via active participation and critical reflection. Yet this appears to be a tremendously immense task to the oppressed.
To conclude, as stated earlier, life should be fuller and richer for every citizen, with opportunities in accordance with achievement and ability regardless of birth circumstances or social stature. Unmistakably, countless Americans are by now weary and mistrustful of the contemporary interpretation of the American Dream. It is critical to note that the American dream is not just a dream of high wages or motor vehicles merely; it is a social order dream where every individual is capable of attaining the fullest of stature and be known for what they are despite the many fortuitous circumstances.
- Adams, James Truslow. The Epic of America. Safety Harbor, FL: Simon Publications, 2001. Print.
- Barlett, Donald L., and James B. Steele. The Betrayal of the American Dream. PublicAffairs, 2012. Print.
- Caldwell, Wilber W. Cynicism and the Evolution of the American Dream. Herndon, VA.: Potomac Books, Inc., 2006. Print.
- Chong, O.A. The American Dream: The Greatest Nightmare. Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse, 2010. Print.
- Cullen, Jim. The American dream: A Short History of an Idea That Shaped the Nation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Print.
- Hernandez, Louis, Jr.. Saving the American Dream: Main Street’s Last Stand. Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse, 2012. Print.
- Ringer, Robert. Restoring the American Dream: The Defining Voice in the Movement for Liberty. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2010. Print.
- Schnell, Hildegard. The American Dream. Munchen: GRIN Verlag, 2010. Print.
- Smith, Hedrick. Who Stole the American Dream? Random House of Canada, 2012. Print.