Is the ‘American Dream Actually Dead?

by / 0 Comments / 89 View / May 13, 2015

Throughout recent years, the idea that the American Dream is dead, or at least dying, has gained a level of support among some people. While there is indeed many pertinent questions to be asked about the current structure of American society, talk of the demise of the American Dream is something without much basis in the current reality. It is one thing to say some definite object or species is dead, like the wooly mammoth, but to apply such terminology to an idea as varying and unspecific as the American Dream is somewhat dubious.

If one were to ask five random people out on the street about the definition of the American Dream, it is likely that there would be a variety of answers, the only commonality being a reference to upward mobility. And whatever social issues currently plague America, ascending the societal ladder, is, to some extent, possible, for those who devote themselves to doing so. There is no use in denying the fact that the path for upward mobility is less clear for some than for others, but nonetheless, that possibility exists. Therefore, it is unhelpful to denounce the American Dream as something that has run its course; so long as upward mobility lives on, the American Dream’s existence will continue.

Additionally, because the American Dream means different things to different people, one may be able to declare his/her own dream dead, but passing it off as a representation of all is foolish. The dream of a Honduran man who is in the country without documentation, and works 14-hour days for below minimum wage, picking strawberries in Central California, is different than that of the high school sophomore in Cleveland working after school so that she can be the first in her family to attend a four-year university, yet they are both of these can be classified as the American Dream. If indeed the American Dream is dead, as some claim it is, then why do immigrants continuously risk their lives to come to the United States? For all its current social problems and battles yet to be fought, America still holds something of a promise of a better life, or at least, a place to make money for a better a life elsewhere for those who are willing to work for this reward. And, if the range of realities that can lead to the American Dream being this large, the claim that the American Dream is a thing of the past seems all the more trivial and unfounded.

I am firmly convinced that the American Dream is alive and well, if not uniform for everybody, perhaps because my parents are living examples of its relevance. I’ve lived a life built off of countless years of the hard work of my parents, have therefore have a perspective on this topic that likely leads me to some degree of bias that I feel should be acknowledged. Nonetheless, if one takes him/herself out of the picture, as I have attempted to do in creating this argument, the broad expanse of the American Dream’s reach can be seen. Even if for some individuals, it appears dead (and if one thinks a personal dream is dead, it likely is), there are countless others striving to better the lives of their families, and while each is coming from a different starting point, and all are looking to reach a different level, they are united in their pursuit of the American Dream.