The American Dream

Since I didn’t grow up in the U.S., I never heard the phrase “American Dream” until I was in my 20s.  And since there was no Internet in the mid-70’s, just what that phrase meant was open to speculation by a “foreigner.”

At first, it didn’t really matter to me what the American Dream meant because I wasn’t about to let my life be motivated by an idea that wasn’t my own.  So I never thought about the American Dream unless I heard it used.  And then I just mentally shrugged…I didn’t ask about what it meant because I had no interest in a discussion of it.

At some point, based on what I saw in various media, I decided the American Dream meant owning a home.  Of course, most folks own a home and so if that is the American Dream then most folks have achieved it.  That was my idea of the American Dream for decades.

But then last year I saw John Boehner on TV after he’d been named Speaker of the House.  He said that he’d spent his whole life “chasing the American Dream” and now that he had been elected Speaker…his voice cracked and he choked back tears.

What? The American Dream is to be Speaker of the House, or some other high political office?  I don’t think so!

It occurred to me that perhaps Boehner was like our Florida governor, who was raised in public housing.  Opened a doughnut store and went on to become CEO of the largest health care company in the country, which was subsequently charged with the largest Medicare fraud in history.  (Like Sgt. Shultz, he claimed “I know nothing! I know nothing!” but he was forced to resign anyway.)

So maybe that’s the American Dream: to dramatically improve your socio-economic status.  As a child, you’re living in the projects but as an adult you’re living in a mansion in one of the wealthiest cities in the America.  Well, I suggest that most folks in the world probably want to do that.  So why call it the “American” dream?  Heck, it’s the “Botswana Dream” too… (What…you have to Google “Botswana” 😉  ?)

Then, less than a year after Boehner’s tears, another version of the “American Dream” comes to my attention.  Some “important” poltician who I cannot remember (because I think politicians are not important at all) says that the American Dream is to leave the country in better condition than it is now…”for our children.”

What?  I have no children!  I don’t care if the country (or the world for that matter) goes down the tubes after I check out. And at my age, that’s unlikely to happen so I really don’t care about anything that may happen after say, 20 years.  Not my problem!

You want to sacrifice, be my guest.  My experience tells me that when someone says that “we” need to sacrifice, the real message is that “you” need to sacrifice so the guy telling you to sacrifice can go on living the easy life.  The idea that all will share the sacrifice equally is ludicrous.

After all this confusion about the American Dream, I decided to think it through.  And it didn’t take long for me to logically deduce what most Americans dream of, which is therefore the “American Dream” in the truest sense.  The American Dream is very obviously this:  to win millions in the lottery.  Most folks I know dream of that.  Even I dream of that…. (but I don’t play the Lottery except during special drawings when “only” a million tickets are sold and so the odds are halfway decent.)

There’s no independence like  millions of dollars.  Enjoy your 4th dreaming the “real” American Dream.


10 responses to “The American Dream

  1. I think the American Dream is not difficult to define, break it down to one word and frame it in a global perspective. That word is freedom. As soon as we founded the first settlement without a ruling King and standing Army we were free. And we have revolted against authority restraining that freedom since that day. Humanity dictates that we are, and will always be, an imperfect species, freedom remains the common deominator of all dreams.

  2. Whatever the American Dream is, our governor seems to believe there’s a finite amount of it, and he’s doing everything he can to keep other people from getting any of it less he lose part of his.
    I don’t have any children either, but I don’t think that’s why I agree with you about “our children and grandchildren”. I just can’t tell you how unmoved I am by that argument. It’s a smokescreen–but it carries a lot of emotional weight for many people. When you think it through, the logic of it falls apart. The reality is that sure, there are more of us living longer and reaching retirement age at the same time (the Baby Boom phenom) than ever before in our history. Well so what? This was news? Now all of a sudden, you want to say, “Oh S—!” ? We gotta do something about Social Security!? I say–deal with it. It’s a moment in time. Every generation has to fend for itself.
    If I had children, I’d wish for them to be free and happy and well-educated. But the picture that gets painted is one where your children are slaving in some Orwellian nightmare. Nonsense.

  3. “But the picture that gets painted is one where your children are slaving in some Orwellian nightmare. Nonsense.”

    Well said FN. Unfortunately, when the President says these things it does nothing at all to set a good example for Congress to follow. It is language used to feed the anger of the truly uninformed. Unfortunately again it feeds anger on both sides of the aisle cause those who are informed resent the hell out of lies from the oval office.

    …if we choose to keep a tax break for corporate jet owners…then that means we’ve got to cut some kids off from getting a college scholarship.

    I’ve said to some of the Republican leaders: you go talk to your constituents, the Republican constituents, and ask them, are they willing to compromise their kids’ safety so that some corporate-jet owner continues to get a tax break?

    Taken from this past weeks inane press conference.

  4. Agreed. Hyperbole at best. But. (You knew there would be a but, right?) It is sometimes a matter of fighting fire with fire. I think normally the President avoids that. And he will never set an example for Congress, no matter what. The more reasonable he is, the more he appeals to the highest common denominator, the more he compromises, the weaker he is seen to be. Unfortunately by both sides. Congress is like a wolfpack, going for the jugular of the pack leader. They disgust me. And it seems to me their greed is now completely undisguised. I am completely at a loss to understand how they get away with it. Except for the part about your children and grandchildren. I don’t get how people don’t understand that that means THEIR children and grandchildren–not yours. Like I said, smokescreen.
    I guess I should get over it. Being free means being free to believe any stupid thing that blows your way as long as it tugs on your heartstrings.

  5. You know, there are whole countries who know and understand more about their government than the average American. I remember when my employee Raslan was studying for his citizenship test, he had to be able to name the two senators from Florida and no one in my office could answer the question (except me).. I’ll bet you that if I randomly picked 100 people from all over the state, 99 of them wouldn’t know either. Like people don’t know the three branches of government either. That is another thing about freedom. It includes a blind trust that your life will go on as it always has, that “politics” will not affect you, and that you don’t need to pay attention. What is that quote? You have a Republic, if you can keep it. Who knew I would ever say this, but I guess I have this in common with the Tea Party 🙂 You should be ever watchful.

  6. I promise to be quiet after one more comment 🙂 It seems to me that the party touting “freedom” is busy trying to take it away. They accuse Democrats of wanting to regulate and control your every move. Really? That isn’t how it seems to me.

  7. “You have a Republic, if you can keep it”

    It was Franklin replying to a woman’s question as he emerged from Freedom Hall

    July 4 1821 Sec of State John Q Adams speaking to the U S House prophetically said of America

    She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart…. She goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own…. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence … the fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force…. She might become the dictatress of the world.

    Thus the “American Dream” of freedom has now infected much of the world but as Adams says our fundamental maxim of policy has changed from liberty to force…………the model is breaking and we need real leadership to fix it. Their are enough critics just not enough folks doing anything about the problem. I guess it’s easier to be cynical.

  8. And this was not intended to be a “political” post….lol!

  9. Lol spencercourt, I wondered about that. The Law of UnIntended Consequences seems to be at work here 🙂 ptfan1 and are more (openly) political than you. You provided a stage:
    But an interesting thing has happened. As time has passed, I at least have come to believe that pt and I are not as far apart as I once thought.
    And pt, I found that quote by JQA breathtaking and extremely thought-provoking. I wondered it JQA could have envisioned the global environment we live in now. After ” children and grandchildren”, the quickest way to make my eyes roll back in my head is to mention the “Founding Fathers”. And yes, I do know that JQA is not one of them 🙂
    But some people (if they even know who is included) seem to have imbued them with ESP. Everything can be explained if you only go back to 1776.

  10. “And this was not intended to be a “political” post….lol!”

    Well you brought up the American Dream and leaned more towards materialistic definition. It’s true the business of America is, and always has been, business. But that is only made possible by freedom to conduct business. We see the thirst for freedom emerging in Arabia today and in China over the past few. Eastern Europe is raising a new generation that knows freedom and it is changing everything. So it’s simple really mankind’s natural state is free and we all want it.

What say you?

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