The American Dream Was Real, Tangible, and Good
Today, an acquaintance tweeted offhandedly,
“There was never an #AmericanDream, it was a myth to bring people over to be exploited”
That statement couldn’t be more wrong.
The “work hard and deal honestly with others will allow you to prosper” American Dream was real. For generations, it was the bedrock upon which my family built its ongoing prosperity, as it was for the many, many families that arrived on America’s shores and their descendants.
Sure, it was tough, but it worked. Not only that, it worked in America in a way it NEVER could have worked anywhere else in the world.
In fact, I strongly believe the countless number of American Dream successes, one after another, became the modern origin of the idea that widespread prosperity was actually possible. A plausible promise of that prosperity is available to anyone willing to work for it, instead of a prosperity that only ever benefited the few — as it did everywhere else.
Until then, a prosperity like this was merely a myth, or a dangerous idea not to be trusted.
Yet we Americans, by actually demonstrating that the Dream was real, broke the economic mold of millenia. We set in motion a process, a dynamism, that made the modern world not only possible, but probable.
Of course, the traditional idea of the American Dream is passing into history. As we have seen over and over again over the last few decades, this powerful formula simply doesn’t work anymore.
Worse, in its wake there is a growing chorus of frustrated people who doubt the American Dream ever existed at all. They are egged on by people that never believed in the American Dream, what it meant, and the people that made it possible. To this elite, as it has been to elites across history, the rise of middle class and its widespread prosperity was a horrendous mistake. An error of history. A blip. Something that we will regret in hindsight.
These elites reside in Washington. Bureaucrats, eager to replace the American Dream with more government, laws, taxes, and regulation in order to actively manage outcomes. They also infest Wall Street. Speculators convinced their financial success means they are genetically, constitutionally, or mentally superior to an America filled with rubes, suckers, and losers — people unfit to prosper.
These detractors couldn’t be more wrong.
Everything we hold as good in the modern world is the product of the widespread prosperity made possible by the American Dream, and everyone around the world who adopted it. Modernity, and its ability to provide even a common man a life of comfort equal to a noble in previous epochs, is the product of the ongoing innovation of those living and working within the confines of this Dream.
Unfortunately, this chorus of detractors is right about one thing.
The American Dream of our past doesn’t deliver results in today’s world, and no amount of bureaucratic “management” or financial “innovation” will fix it.
The world the Dream made possible has changed. This world made the Dream obsolete at the very moment of its victory.