The “American dream” is a term that James Truslow Adams coined in his book “The American Epic” released in 1931. Adams defined the term as “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”
In other words, the American Dream is the ability to obtain a better lot in life through hard work. The belief in that dream is what helped make America an optimistic country that faced challenges, solved problems, and overcame crises, a country where tomorrow can be better than today.
However, confidence in the American Dream appears to be slipping away.
A recent CNNMoney poll revealed that 59 percent of Americans believe that the American Dream is impossible for most Americans to achieve, up 5 percent from 2006.
Equally concerning is that the same poll revealed that 63 percent of Americans are concerned about the future. They think that their children will grow up to be worse off than their parents are.
A sad state of affairs for a nation that many once thought almost too proud and too optimistic.
I even read of a new term “Amero-pessimism” that is being used by both the left and right to describe an America that is going from bad to worse.
I question, however, if what we’re seeing is really pessimism. I’m sorry, but I don’t see a country that is in a state of despair.
What I see is a country that’s frustrated, frustrated at almost every level.
We’re frustrated by an economy that can’t create jobs paying livable wages at a sustained pace to put hardworking people back to work. We’re frustrated by a dysfunctional federal government mired in gridlock and scandal. We’re frustrated that college students graduate saddled with more debt than they may ever be able to repay. We’re frustrated with a $17 trillion national debt. We’re frustrated with an economic recovery that has lasted longer and been slower than any since the Great Depression. We’re frustrated that our national infrastructure is crumbling. We’re frustrated by a war in Afghanistan that seems endless.