Has The American Dream Changed From The 1960s To Today Essay Definition

The American Dream

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"The American Dream" is that dream of a nation in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with options for each according to capacity or accomplishments. It is a dream of social stability in which each man and each woman shall be able to achieve to the fullest distinction of which they are essentially competent, and be distinguish by others for what they are, despite of the incidental conditions of birth or stance. The American Dream is often something that humanity wonders about. What is the American dream? Many people discover success in a range of things. There are many different definitions of the American Dream. However, the American Dream embraces prosperity, personal safety, and personal liberty. The American dream is a continually fluctuating set of ideals, reflecting the ideas of an era.

With America actually being seen as the land of assurance, the American dream is usually associated with the freedom and opportunity of gaining prosperity, recognition, power, triumph, and contentment. On the surface, this dream appears virtually delighted, offering individuals the exceptional hope of accomplishing success despite of one’s race, religion, or family history. The American Dream is accurately what it seems to be the chance of perfect lying nearby the corner. However, the actual nature of this dream prohibit the pleasure of the victory one has earned, as the desire is always demanding one to work a slight harder and gain a slightly more.

     The American Dream can obliterate any prospect of satisfaction and does not show its own unfeasibility. The American dream is combine and intensely implanted in every structure of American life. During the previous years, a very significant number of immigrants had crossed the frontier of the United States of America to hunt the most useful thing in life, the dream, which every American human being thinks about the American dream. Many of those immigrants sacrificed their employments, their associations and connections, their educational levels, and their languages at their homelands to start their new life in America and prosper in reaching their dream.

     So what is this fantasy all about? One would most likely describe it as being rich and famous, some would imply to have a lot of power; nonetheless, the personal definition of an American dream is the capacity to have a personal freedom, being able to get the highest level of education, being successful in finding an suitable job, to have a vigorous and happy family, eventually to have an reasonable place of living and dependable personal transportation.

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All these factors make up the American dream and exist as a goal for every person who is trying to reach it. The constitution of this country advocate that every person who lives on American soil is free. First of all, it means the liberty of choice. Every person is able to make his own decisions in order to reach some goals, which are worthwhile.

When the American people migrated to this country in search of a better life, there was a craving for freedom and realization. For the immigrant in American history, the American Dream meant just a better life, but that better life did not only mean a better life with material goods, although that was part of it. A better life also meant freedom to worship at the church of one's choice, not the one your king commanded you to attend. It meant freedom to liberty from having soldiers coming into your town in the middle of the night and demanding you give them accommodations and equipments from your own personal belongings. Most of the effects we see in the Bill of Rights were components of what the American Dream meant to people who left other lands to come to America. Today, what remains most predominately unfulfilled in America is the promise of affluence for all. Many people have attain their goals and achieved their American Dream, unfortunately not everyone have achieved the American Dream that almost everyone have dream of.

What Is the American Dream Today?

It's Drifted from the Vision of Our Founding Fathers.

Before looking at what the American Dream is today, we need to look at its roots. The Declaration of Independence protects your opportunity to improve your life, no matter who you are.

It boldly proclaims: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

Our Founding Fathers introduced the revolutionary idea that each person's desire to pursue their idea of happiness was not self-indulgence, but a necessary driver of a prosperous society. They created a government to defend that right for everyone. The pursuit of happiness became the driver of the entrepreneurial spirit that defines the American free market economy.

Of course, at that time "everyone" only meant white property-owners. Over time, the right was extended to slaves, women and people without property. President Lincoln extended the American Dream to slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation. President Wilson extended it to women by supporting the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. President Johnson promoted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That extended the dream by protecting workers from discrimination by race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy) or national origin.

In 1967, those rights were extended to those older than 40. President Obama established the right to the pursuit of happiness through marriage regardless of sexual orientation. The Supreme Court supported that right in 2015.

How the American Dream Changed

Throughout U.S. history, the definition of happiness changed as well.

In the 1920s, it became the acquisition of material things. That was best exemplified by the novel The Great Gatsby. Its author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, defined the aspirations of the age. At the same time, he warned that a pursuit of happiness driven by greed was not attainable. That's because someone else always had more. This greed led to the stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression.

After the 1920s, many presidents supported the idea of the Dream as a pursuit of material benefits. President Roosevelt outlined an Economic Bill of Rights in his 1944 State of the Union address. He defined the pursuit of happiness as decent housing, a good job, education and health care. FDR realized that people who were hungry, homeless and sick were more likely to succumb to strong social forces. He worried about fascism, Communism and Socialism movements that were sweeping the world at that time. For more, see FDR's Unfinished Second Bill of Rights.

President Truman's Fair Deal expanded the Dream to include entitlement. In other words, if you worked hard and played by the rules, the government should provide financial security, education, health care and a home. 

Many national leaders continued the shift set in place by FDR and Truman.

Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush supported homeownership as part of the Dream. While running for President in 2008, Hillary Clinton proposed her American Dream Plan. It included homeownership, college, retirement and health insurance for children. Obama extended the right to health care with the Affordable Care Act.

Did the Great Recession Create a New American Dream?

Some people think the Great Recession and rising income inequality spelled the end of the American Dream for many. But it only damaged the materialistic American Dream, which isn't achievable anyway.

Instead, many are turning to a new definition of the American Dream that better reflects the values of the country for which it was named. For example, the Center for a New American Dream envisions "... a focus on more of what really matters, such as creating a meaningful life, contributing to community and society, valuing nature, and spending time with family and friends."

Financial adviser Suze Orman described the new American Dream as one "... where you actually get more pleasure out of saving than you do spending. It's a dream where you live below your means but within your needs. You are not spending every penny, you are not impressing people. You are living a life where you can sleep at night and you are actually happy." (Source: Suze Orman on the New American Dream, ABC.)

Is the New Dream Really New?

Both of these new visions reject the American Dream based on materialism. But perhaps there is no need to create a New American Dream from scratch. Instead, let's return to our Founding Fathers' vision. All people have an equal and inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of their own happiness. Federal law protects this right. 

The Declaration of Independence says nothing about any type of lifestyle. It does not define what that happiness should look like. Instead, it seeks to ensure that everyone has equal opportunity to pursue a personal vision. It also promotes faith in private free enterprise as a way to pursue that happiness. 

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