How The American Dream Morally Corrupted The US For Generations

The “American Dream” is a phrase as old as the US is “free”. Well, actually not really. The phrase as we know it was coined by James Truslow Adams in his 1931 book, “Epic of America”. Adams wrote that the American Dream is “that dream of a land in which life should be better and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement”, which sounds objectively great. In a country that exists strictly according to this sentiment, the US would look like the futuristic versions of itself that we see depicted in 80s movies. Flying cars, futuristic skyscrapers, and jetpacks would all be commonplace. So, if these are the ideals we hold “true” in the US…where are all the flying cars? If every person here is given the opportunity to flourish and prosper to their fullest potential, why don’t they?

The short answer is: The US never really applied this magical law. While sure, there are people in the US who achieved this dream, it is not as wide reaching as Truslow Adams wrote it to be. The peak of American Prosperity was in the post-war 1950s, with the economy growing by 37%, and the average family having 30% more purchasing power than the previous decade. Unemployment was at 4.5%, and the marginal tax rate at the top tax bracket was 90%. The children of people born in the 20s and 30s were experiencing upward mobility that has not been seen in this country since. At the start of the 50s, Americans had an 80% chance of out-earning their parents. In every year since then (save a small spike for 2 years in the 70s), that number has fallen drastically, with people born in 1984 only having around a 50/50 shot to out-earn their parents. Seeing as this is the most recent data we have, this number is surely to be still falling.

So, if this is the case, where is the American Dream in American society? It isn’t tangible, and we aren’t seeing any signs that life is getting “better and fuller for everyone”. Those days are long gone. The American Dream today exists today as a social fallacy, used to connive lower class working Americans into thinking they can make it big one day, while the rich continue to widen the wealth gap right under their nose.

The greatest con of the Top 1% and Republican Party is getting people to believe that if they just work hard enough, one day they will become a millionaire/billionaire just like them. According to a 2016 Gallup poll, 46% of Americans believed the government should not be redistributing wealth in the country in the form of a higher tax rate on the rich. Time after time on the right, people are voting against their own self interests, in order to protect the pockets of the upper class, under the guise of “Well one day I, too, would be that rich, and I wouldn’t want to be taxed like that!”. Completely sold on fake promises of eventual wealth, we do not see sweeping progressive economic policy that would (immensely) help the same poor, working class white people that despise the left’s economic policy. Donald Trump in 2016 swept every lower class white demographic, and by a wide margin. The Republican party, for decades, has gotten hard working, lower class white folks to view policy that would help them both socially and financially as an erosion of American Values, and as a threat to the “American Dream”.

The American Dream was created with good intention. In a time of American economic prosperity, things seemed to be looking up for the US. This Dream didn’t last long though, and it wasn’t long before this promise and hope of financial success was weaponized and put in the book of American mythos, just like the idea of rugged individualism and “hard work”. Until we can get people to understand that the richest of the rich in this country are only looking out for themselves, we will never see the idea of the American Dream realized in its initial form.



My takes on things that I think matter.

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