In an election year we hear candidates tell us how they want to make the “American Dream” available to everyone. By this they usually mean a good education that leads to a job with upward mobility, which includes salary raises and promotions, retirement accounts, and of course home ownership. The American Dream is well known around the world. It is a driving force for immigrants legal and illegal. In America (theoretically, anyway), education and work are available to anyone who really wants it: man and woman, young and old, rich and poor.
But the American Dream has become of late a source of division among people of different classes in our society—seen as a zero-sum and pitting people against one another. Whether it’s objectively true or not, our society acts like the American Dream is a commodity and there’s not enough to go around. Like the peasants gathered around Marie-Antoinette’s palace shouting for bread, we gather around our politicians demanding a piece of the American Dream.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the American Dream is not a job and a house, although those can be its consequences. The American Dream is not an education, but it can include that. No. The American Dream is a singular idea expressed succinctly: “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.”
Read the rest of the essay at The Federalist