- Brief definition of the American Dream
- I: “How the American Dream Turned into a Nightmare”
- II: “Joel Contartese Shares 5 Lessons On The American Dream”
- III: “Less than 20% of Americans say they're living the American Dream-here’s why”
- IV: “Baltimore: 'This is what poverty in the US looks like' ”
- V: “President Trump Talks About Tax Reform and The American Dream”
Brief definition of the American Dream
Your exam assignment asks you to account for and comment on different perceptions of the American Dream, based on the exam materials.
The American Dream is traditionally defined as each American having equal opportunities to achieve their goals and dreams. This concept is rooted in the Declaration of Independence which states all men are equal and have the right to life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness.
In what follows, we will look at what specific perceptions of the American Dream each of the texts in your assignment conveys.
I: “How the American Dream Turned into a Nightmare”
Text I by Takis S. Pappas conveys a negative view of the American Dream, which, the author believes has "turned into a nightmare". This suggests that Pappas views the American Dream as changing into something negative and unreachable.
The author argues that, in the past, the American Dream was a recipe for America’s success because it described “a land ‘of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable.’ ” (ll. 2-3). The American Dream also meant integrating different cultures in a positive way: “All those elements melted together in the pot, and became integrated into that country’s dominant culture and its old institutions.” (ll. 7-8).
However, now Pappas argues that the American Dream is “moribund” (l. 10). He associates the death of the American Dream with Trump’s election, which had economic and political causes: “Well, it happened for three interrelated reasons: poor individual life prospects, imperiled majority group status and a yearning for bold, aggressive leadership.” (ll. 14-15).
The writer argues that the US became a “debtor nation” (l. 26) because “commercial banks, corporations and government agencies had facilitated consumer lending” (l. 25).
This, together with a slow economy, has affected the economic prospects of the white working-class, which formed an important part of Trump’s voters. The article cites working-class people arguing that there’s no American Dream for them any longer: “ ‘There’s no American dream for anyone who isn’t a lawyer or banker,’ a Trump voter said.” (ll. 28-29).
At the same time, the article mentions that the political class has repeatedly failed to deal with people’s economic frustrations: “…anger with established politicians who offer hope rather than decent jobs to make the American people upwardly mobile again.” (ll. 18-19).
However, the author does not believe Trump’s presidency will bring back the American Dream. On the contrary, he argues that Trump’s actions might lead to “epic failure” (l. 57). To support this view, Pappas claims that “The American dream seems to lie in tatters, and there is growing support for mass deportations of illegal and other unwanted minorities” (ll. 45-47).
Integrating minorities was an important aspect of the American Dream because this is how the US was created: by attracting people of different background and cultures. For many people, the American Dream used to refer to the opportunity for immigrants to create a good life for themselves even if they arrived in the US with very little. This is why the writer does not believe that “scrubbing the melting pot will bring harmony and reduce the polarization and racial conflict in American society.” (ll. 51-52).
Also, Pappas argues that Trump’s policies will probably not change anything for the working class: “…it is unlikely that his policies will turn around the lives of Americans in downtrodden areas that have lost factory jobs.” (ll. 50-51).
Finally, Pappas believes that the American Dream is in danger because Trump’s presidency threatens the American governmental institutions that have made this dream possibl...