The American Dream has been the greatest cultural myth, underlying idea, and tradition behind the United States since its revolutionary beginning. Yet with the rise of globalization, a giant wealth gap, inequality and our government coddling business, it’s easy to see that not only has the dream completely changed from what it meant 50 years ago, it’s nothing more than a dream itself.
The dream is a baby boomer cliché of the 1950s’: the white picket fence, the 2.3 kids, the identical tract home. It’s the idea that with hard work and diligence anything is achievable, but this isn’t true for all Americans. The level of wealth you are born into determines the opportunities you will have, as wealth is passed down for generations. Upper class children have a greater advantage over children born to lower class parents and there is only a 5 percent chance that a child born below the poverty level will end up making $100,000 a year or more.
Class mobility is the backbone behind our mythical dream, and as this diminishes so does the dream. While our American Dream of prosperity is fading, our government continues to deregulate business, give tax cuts and subsidies to the rich, and hand out less than deserved bailouts, keeping the rich richer, the poor poorer, and our government in shambles. And as tax cuts for the rich increase, fewer and fewer jobs have been created, which was the justification for lowering their taxes in the first place.
The love affair between our government and corporations is sickening, but the reality is that our political and social structures thrive on money. The interests of the people become unimportant compared to the interests of lobbyists in D.C.
Our elected officials, supposed representatives of the people, really represent the people more well off in America, and more importantly, the interests of those who contribute to officials’ pockets. To reinstate the equal opportunity for all to prosper, we need to clear the corporate greed from our government and favor a model closer to direct democracy. Our representatives should represent us, not the corporations that fund them.
Since 1928, the inequality of our nation’s wealth gap has never been as great as it is now. One percent of the U.S. population controls 50 percent of the national wealth, while the remaining 99 percent controls the other half. This is a common statistic often used by the Occupy Wall Street movement,. While the media has constantly criticized these protesters for being a liberal Tea Party, the truth is this is not a left or right issue. It is an American issue.
For Americans young and old, to stand up and say there is something wrong with our system is not a partisan move, but an effort for the greater good of the average American citizen. There is nothing more American than dissent. It’s not “America, love it or leave it.” It’s “America, love it or change it.”
Levelling the playing field for the rich, the poor, and the in-between is not class warfare, but giving the wealthiest in this nation better opportunities is. We must preserve and protect everyone’s ability to better themselves through productivity. It’s time to take our American Dream and save it from the American Nightmare it has become.