The American Dream is the most significant concept: after all, it is difficult to neglect the wishes and hopes of an entire nation. As the situation in the country changes, and the realities of the American life conflict with its Dream, some are quick to announce that the latter has been “bruised” or “frayed” or in any other way has lost its beauty. Such a pessimistic approach has the right to exist, but as it appears to Brandon King and me, it can also be easily refuted since it does not take into account the fact that people, nations, and ideas tend to change.
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Brandon King is one of the many who have decided to explore the topic of the American Dream and its longevity. The author dwells on various approaches to the question and mentions the reasons for and against considering the American dream a modern still existing feature. However, he concludes that the American Dream has not gotten frayed or deficient; instead, it has changed, and now it has the chance to fulfill its mission and help the American nation survive another crisis in a new environment. In my opinion, this point is correct in more ways than one.
King begins by defining and redefining the American Dream. His definition is quite standard (the equal opportunity for all to get richer through hard work). However, the author also chooses the surest path towards redefining the Dream: he does it by reviewing the nations’ ideas of success. He concludes that the focus of the Dream has shifted from the richest strata of the society towards the security of one’s middle-class wealth.
Thus, the new concept is still the Dream: it is the aggregate perceptions of the majority of the population concerning the more attractive idea of success. However, it has done the most logical thing: adapted to the current situation. While people most often foster and praise change, they are more skeptical about it in dreams. Probably, the reason for that lies in the suppositions that giving your dreams up is difficult, and you must be loyal to your dream.
Perhaps, it is also difficult to be practical in your dreams. However, the people of America never actually gave the dream up. Moreover, King asserts that the Dream “will continue to exist as part of the American psyche,” and he is not alone in this belief (578).
For example, Clouse et al. begin their article by insisting that the “concept of the American Dream has changed since the discovery of America” (25). Indeed, the authors propose to regard America as the motherland of the Dream since before the term was invented because the very idea of colonization is a dream. The authors have traced the development of the Dream and show how it has been growing more complicated and sophisticated.
The authors also explain why it is so: because the American Dream describes the purpose of the nation, every person in the country, and ultimately the country itself. The notion of bringing democracy to other lands has been a controversial issue, but it cannot be denied that the values of America are aimed at explaining its purpose. In other words, they are more complicated than having a car that you cannot have now because of the recession.
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Clouse et al. also discuss the future potential of the dream. They indicate that the modern world has many insecurities, including social, political, and economic ones. They believe that these conditions will shape the new form of the Dream. Millett, on the other hand, goes further and produces several possible scenarios of its development. None of them can be defined as a positive one, but none is too pessimistic either. It is apparent that the author is concerned with the possibility of growing individualism, but he also admits that it will lead, for example, to the freedom of economic development and intensive care for the elderly (Millett 20). In other words, the American Dream and its outcomes are unlikely to be perfect, but they do not have the chance to be such in the imperfect world.
Apart from that, it is not unusual to have a somewhat practical approach towards a dream. For example, Best approaches the American Dream with a practical aim and for a practical reason: to use it to explain the current economic issues of the country. What he terms as the American Dream Industries have been developing towards creating “bubbles.” These “bubbles” have all the qualities of a dream: they are unrealistic but overly attractive, which causes an uncontrollable growth of demand for them.
Now, these bubbles resemble cancer; in a way, they form a malevolent tumor on the body of the economy of a nation. Apart from creating overpriced products it also works towards enhancing inequality and keeping people from achieving the American Dream, thus making it more ephemeral (Best 573). Such is the negative outcome of the previous American Dream. Therefore, it appears only fitting that it changes during the Great Recession to give people some more practical advice.
Admittedly, the Dream becomes less idealistic in the process of change, but for most, it has always been too materialistic, even though that the ethical component (human rights, equality) is very strong in it (LaGreca 198-199).
It is apparent that money can be used for freedom (especially for the unprivileged parts of the population) and is necessary for the basic “amount” of choice. As stated by LaGreca, the American Dream does insist on a greater amount of money because it is required for crucial things like “education, information, and self-respect” (LaGreca 201). As a result, it can be suggested that the American Dream has always attempted to bridge idealism and realism and used the unromantic metal to reach romantic results. In other words, while changing the Dream keeps its core intact.
It logically follows that the American Dream is not a consumerist paradise; it is about opportunity and choice (Millett 19). In this respect, it has also been very useful; for example, the dream has been promoting the rights of the previously oppressed strata. Stout and Le, for example, mention the continuing discrepancy between the black and white people that results in the poorer socioeconomic status of the former.
Thus, it is apparent that the American Dream does not cover all the unprivileged because it assumes equal opportunities. As a result, the optimism of the black concerning this idea is less expressive than that of the white (Stout and Le 1350). However, the election of President Barak Obama has to lead to a temporary but noticeable increase in the pro-Dream ranks. Therefore, the Dream is capable of bridging the differences and promoting the equality that America fights for so long, which proves the idea that it is more practically applicable than it seems.
To sum up, the complex and continually changing American Dream does not appear to have gotten; instead, it simply proceeds to develop. It has preserved its core but changed some of its features and now is capable of showing a more logical and helpful direction to its modern followers. In other words, it has evolved to show people their purpose and fulfill their own.
Best, Eric. “Debt and the American Dream”. Soc 49.4 (2012): 349-352. Web.
Clouse, Wilburn, Terry Goodin, Joseph Aniello, Charles Stowe, and Noel McDowell. “Living the American Dream: But what is it? (Chasing the Dream Maybe More Exciting than Living the Dream).” American Journal of Management 13.3 (2013): 25-38. ProQuest. Web.
King, Brandon. “The American Dream: Dead, Alive or on Hold.” They Say/I Say. Ed. Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein. New York, New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2010. 572-579. Print.
LaGreca, Peter C. “Separate and Unequal: The American Dream Unfulfilled.” Rutgers Race and the Law Review 16.2 (2015): 183-201. ProQuest. Web.
Millett, Stephen M. “What Will Happen To The “American Dream”? Four Scenarios For Opportunity In The United States To 2035”. Strategy & Leadership 44.2 (2016): 17-24. Web.
Stout, Christopher Timothy, and Danvy Le. “Living the Dream: Barack Obama and Blacks’ Changing Perceptions of the American Dream Living the Dream. “Social Science Quarterly (Wiley-Blackwell) 93.5 (2012): 1338-1359. Business Source Complete. Web.