Doesthe American dream exist today?
Theissue of whether the American dream is alive or dead iscontroversial. Some citizens hold that the dream no longer alivewhile others support the notion that it still exists. However, theconcept is amorphous because people from different age groups andethnic backgrounds understand it from different perspectives (Gelman1203). However, the concept is generally used to explain theopportunity for all citizens to achieve upward mobility in allaspects of life. Although there are some cases of race-baseddiscrimination and inequality in wealth distribution, the existenceof meritocracy and equal opportunity to prosper suggests that theAmerican dream still exists.
Equalaccess to opportunities
Accessto opportunities is one of the key principles on which the Americandream is founded. The principle of opportunity implies that the U.S.will continue enabling all citizens to access chances (such aseducation and employment) that can help them increase their happinessand the quality of life. Although a number of Americans seem to havegiven up the pursuit of the American dream, an objective analysis ofthe change in the level of quality of life in between generations isa key indicator of whether the vision is still alive. Studies showthat over 42 % of the Americans believe that their life in the 2013was better than their parents in the 1940s while 72 % of them statedthat they have more opportunities to excel in life than their parentswho lived in the first half of the twentieth century (Bowman 17).
Althoughthe American dream is always considered as national vision, it issupposed to be pursued at an individual level while success thatcomes along with it is celebrated at the national level.Traditionally, the people of America have sought to achieve theirdreams by exploiting opportunities in their environment, which isonly accomplished through hard work. Although there is a generationof people who believe in getting rich within a short time throughjackpots and lawsuits, it is evident that the largest populationbelieves in hard work and innovation. For example, a study conductedto assess the perception of students about the American dreamrevealed that the majority of them believe that people who work hardhave higher chances of succeeding (Seider 9). Therefore,opportunities are available to all Americans, but only those who arewilling to work hard are able to realize the dream.
Diversity,discrimination, and the American dream
Americanhas one of the most diverse societies in the world. The rapidincrease in ethnic, cultural, and racial diversity can be attributedto the issue of immigration, where people from different countriesmove to the U.S. in search for jobs and business opportunities (Wyman2). The majority of the people who support the idea that the Americandream is an illusion include immigrants who enter the U.S. with thehope of getting rich within a short time. Immigrants live in the poorneighborhoods and find manual jobs since the majority of them lackproper documents to help them access better-paying jobs. The poorimmigrants and children who are born in the overcrowded neighborhoodsconclude that the American dream is an illusion upon realizing thatthey have a long way to go before they can achieve the financialsuccess that they desire. The failure of the minority of races toachieve the financial success equal to Americans whose parents andgrandparents have accumulated wealth over the years cannot be used asthe basis of determining the existence or the death of the Americandream.
Theblack Americans and Hispanics claim that they are discriminatedagainst. However, trends indicate that the rate of discrimination hasbeen reducing with time following the activities of the civil rightsmovements (Alvarado 8). In addition, language proficiency hasimproved by about 33 %, which has empowered people from differentethnic backgrounds to transact and find jobs with minimumdifficulties. Therefore, the increase in diversity coupled with adecline in the rate of discrimination has not killed the dream, butthe perception of those who find it hard to succeed has created thewrong notion about it.
Thecontribution of meritocracy
Theconcept of meritocracy is upheld in the American society, wherematerial rewards are allocated on the basis of one’s intelligenceand efforts, instead of social as well as demographiccharacteristics. Meritocracy is based on the principle that the onlyway to succeed in America is to be ambitious, intelligent, and hardworking (Alvarado 10). In other words, all people living in the U.S.have an equal chance to prosper, but the most worthy citizens achievetheir goals first. Allegations of discrimination on the basis race,gender, and other demographic factors are baseless since they do notcount in the equation of meritocracy.
Oneof the factors raised by the people who believe that the Americandream no longer exists is the issue of inequality. The terminequality encompasses several factors, including unequaldistribution of wealth. Currently, the United States has the widestgap between the poor and the rich citizens among the developedcountries (Gelman 1207). This gap was narrowed down in the 1940s, butit has been expanding exponentially since the 1960s. The widening ofthe gap has been attributed to several factors, including an increasein the popularity of the concepts of capitalism and individualism.The American dream, as opposed to the culture of most of the Asiancountries, was founded on the premise of individual’s hard work,instead a collective success of all members of the community.
Thegap between the poor and the rich can be considered as a keyindicator of the difference between citizens who are able to exploitopportunities in their surroundings and those who cannot. In otherwords, the existence of the American dream cannot be measured on thebasis of capitalism and the gap between the poor and the rich.Instead, analysts should focus in the determination of whether thepoor Americans have an equal opportunity to get out of the bracket ofthe poor citizens. The government has not only created a fair playingfield for all citizens, but also supported the small and microenterprises in an effort to boost the up-coming businesspeople(Abdullahi 526). Therefore, inequality cannot justify an argumentthat the American dream is an illusion since adequate measures havebeen taken to help all Americans succeed.
Anequal opportunity for all citizens to prosper, coupled with theconcept of meritocracy indicates that the American dream stillexists. The existence of a few cases of race-based discrimination andinequality in terms of the distribution of wealth cannot be used asthe basis for refuting the existence of the reverie. All Americanshave an equal chance to prosper depending on their intelligence,ambition, and efforts. In addition, the American economy is based onthe concept of capitalism, which implies that the success isattributed to an individual and not the community. Therefore, eachindividual citizen can pursue and achieve the American dream.
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Alvarado,L. “Dispelling the meritocracy myth: Lessons for higher educationand student affairs educators”. TheVermont Connection31 (2010): 1-20. Print.
Bowman,K., Marsico, J. and Sims, H. Isthe American dream alive? Examining Americans’ attitudes.Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute, 2014. Print.
Gelman,A., Kenworthy, L. and Su, Y. “Income inequality and partisan votingin the United States”. SocialScience Quarterly91.5 (2010): 1203-1219. Print.
Seider,C., Gillmor, C. and Rabinowicz, A. “Complicating college students’conception of the American dream through community service learning”.MichiganJournal of Community Service Learning1 (2010): 5-19. Print.
Wyman,B. “The American dream, equal opportunity, and obtaining the vote”.TheCohen Journal1.1 (2015): 1-16. Print.