January 22, 2012

One American Dream Fades – Will Another Be Born?.


When your mind and heart are truly open abundance will flow to you effortlessly and easily.

The United States remains the country that foreigners criticize the most and want to move to the most. Pursuing the American dream remains a potent motivator for every wave of immigration. It is also a constant theme among this year's crop of Republican hopefuls, who criticize President Obama for tearing down national greatness and pride. Yet beyond hope and rhetoric there are some undeniable facts that counter our embrace of the American dream.

First, the dream was based on democratic equality. Yet the trend has been for certain votes — those cast by the rich, the influential, the corporate connected – to count more than the average citizen's. In some quarters the dominance of lobbyists in Washington indicates that American democracy is for sale. However you view that proposition, there's no doubt that Congress is stuffed with millionaires, lawyers, prosecutors, and soon-to-be-lobbyists.

Second, the American dream was based on opportunity. The Horatio Alger climb from rags to riches is our national archetype. But as it stands, other countries, mostly in Europe, offer greater social mobility, meaning that the ladder is harder to climb in America than we like to believe. As evidence we see income inequality that is skyrocketing, along with protests from the 99% that the 1% at the top have rigged the game in their favor.

Third, the American dream flourished in a melting pot of immigrant cultures. Each wave of immigrants arrived as strangers in a strange land, but by the second generation their children were assimilated into the cultural mainstream. Historians tell us that ethnic divisions have always been strong, despite the cultural ideal of the melting pot. Now, instead of pitched street battles between Irish and Italians fighting over jobs and power, we have social divisions baked into the cake, as it were. De facto segregation keeps African-Americans isolated in pockets of crime, drugs, and unemployment. Immigrants are looked upon suspiciously by the right wing. Selected ethnic groups, such as Muslims, are considered as almost permanent outsiders.

There are other ways in which the American dream has been undercut. If that dream includes the doctrine of peace, in reality we are the most militarized nation on earth. We develop the latest means of mechanized death, and lead the world in arms dealing. If the dream includes tolerance for all minorities, the almost rabid opposition to gay marriage and the barely disguised racism of voter ID laws cast doubt on that ideal.

What remains intact and most hopeful in the American dream is our flexibility, ingenuity, and willingness to change. Progress cannot be halted, and a new American dream is beginning to cohere. If the brightest trends bear fruit, this country is demographically at a great advantage over Europe, Russia, and China. As those societies grow old, America's influx of immigrants assures that we will have younger workers. Some economists see American manufacturing being reborn as costs in China rise. This week General Motors regained its place as the largest auto maker in the world. The high price of oil has made the extraction of alternate fuel sources more viable. Becoming oil independent is an actual possibility, and motivated by the threat of global warming, the trend toward non-fossil fuels has a fighting chance.

The new American dream isn't simply economic. Once we regain our optimism (a tall order but inevitable, I think) the basis for renewed prosperity is already in place: the GDP in 2011 was higher than before the recession began. Forward movement depends on keeping a progressive-minded President in place, but this post isn't about that. It's about realism as it intertwines with myth. The two aren't enemies. It needs to be part of the progressive agenda to heal the old American dream while giving the new one all the encouragement we can.

Published by The San Francisco Chronicle

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  1. Kamel mikhaI am

    I am a Canadian but born in Iraq-Assyrian.I been In Iraq and saw what they did and how they destory Iraq by begining with looting the musium and bringing bad politican to power .They want ti dived Iraq and the north historical side of Iraq -Assyria -Ninevh-which jesos spoke about here people will be giveen to the Kurd because the game of wright wing American by the name of chirst are realated to the most bad religous plan -wright wings Jewish and by the way history and spiritualty have some realation and could helep especaily about Iraq -civelation-Assyrian as examaple .The reason i said that is to brmind American that the game is over and the mind of peace is in its way to be the leader and that is why i menationed Assyrian-because there are a lot of hiden secrets there and i wittnesed American army looking for them and mostely ET-the olden each teconologiy .America and its compuand-Militiry -Indestrial -are build against the will of people and their hapness and by advancing spiritualal understing and I can assur you from my back rond politic and my spiritual belive throu East- Chirstayanty which Approved that no matter what religous or non religous you are you are one with all huminty and in harmouny with the unverse and America today must be changed and will changed pecafuly when we came togather and be optomstic it is true and olaready started .Thank to Mr.Deepak for his true services for all huamanity .

  2. Malaica

    Growing up, I never Believed in the American Dream as we were taught that meant you were able to have anything you want, do anything you want because there is democracy here, but you never really know until you realize what you leave behind. If the old American dream was to have 5 cars, house in Malibu and etc... think again, none of those things you will take when you leave this planet, the time spent, what you did with it, that you may.

  3. Luciantone

    Agree totally very convincing arguments, how do we reach out to the masses who think reaching the American dream is attainable to everyone. There are major stumbling blocks to classes, races, genders, ethnicities, religions, sexuality and even subcultures ie freemasonry. At least the new generations don`t have the same exclusionary attitudes that remain so pervasive in America still. If only we would educate them better would I have your hope for the future.

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