The Image of America: is the American Dream a Myth Or Reality

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As if on the cover of a glossy magazine - an idealized image of the American family appears: a large beautiful house with many bedrooms and baths, a garden, a perfect lawn, several cars for each family member; children study in a prestigious school, laying the foundation for future prospects ... And, on the contrary, some people understand that the 'American Dream' has no territorial restrictions. What exists in our minds as an incentive or hope to encourage ourselves to move, to act against setbacks and despair. The optimistic phrase, 'If one door is closed, the other is sure to open,' goes into memory.

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Probably the 'American Dream' is an image, a myth invented by a wealthy privileged part of society to beautifully explain one's own success to an uncertain, unsuccessful, marginalized rest, to give it a chance. Hopefully, gradually break out of the current tenets of trouble. Regardless of origin, age, gender, race, education, social status.

And for someone, the American Dream is to reach the tops of any nation, anywhere in the globe. It can be a German, British, Japanese, Korean, Ukrainian dream. To a large extent, it also depends on the person, his or her personal preference, internal impulses, aspirations, talents, fantasies, efficiency, readiness for the purpose of combating failure and defeat. From her ability to 'synthesize' her own pleasures, interests, talents (inclinations) with a socio-financial factor. Or to combine the realization of one's purpose, potential, attraction to something with emotional and personal affirmation.

The American dream is alive and well for the vast majority of Americans. This claim may seem far-fetched given the cultural climate in the United States today. Moreover, with President Trump taking office, it is unlikely that the day will go by without a fresh account of economic anxiety, political disconnect or social struggles. The opportunity to achieve material success and social mobility through persistent, honest work - which many people, including myself, consider to be the core idea of the American dream - is diminishing.

But Americans seem to be referring to something else when they talk about the American dream. And they believe that they live by it. Last year, the American Enterprise Institute and I joined forces with the NORC Research Center at the University of Chicago and surveyed a nationally representative sample of 2,411 Americans about their relationships with the community and society. The center is known for offering 'deep' samples of Americans, not just random ones, so researchers can be sure that they reach Americans in all walks of life: rural, urban, sightseeing, and more. Our findings were released Tuesday as a report by the American Enterprise Institute.

What our poll found about the American Dream came as a surprise to me. When asked what makes the American Dream a reality, they did not select the main factors that become wealthy, own a home, or have a successful career. Instead, 85 percent said 'having the freedom to choose how to live' is essential to achieving the American dream. In addition, 83 percent indicated that a “good family life” was important.

The 'traditional' factors (at least as I understand them) were considered less important. Only 16 percent said it was important to 'get rich' to achieve the American dream, only 45 percent said it was important to 'have a better quality of life than your parents' and only 49 percent said 'to have a successful career 'was key.

The data also shows that the majority of Americans believe that they are achieving this version of the American dream, 41% report that their families already live the American dream, and another 41 percent report that they are on the way. Only 18 percent took the view that the American dream was unattainable for them

82% of Americans say they are optimistic about their future, and there is a fairly positive outlook across the country. Factors such as region, town, partisan relations, and type of housing (for example, a single-family single-family home) almost did not affect these schemes, when all groups fluctuated by about 80 percent. Even race and ethnicity, regularly referred to as key factors in upward mobility, did not correspond to real differences in outlook: eighty-one percent of non-Hispanic whites; 80 percent of blacks, Latinos, and the mixed race; and 85 percent of those with Asian heritage said they had achieved or were on the path to achieving the American dream. 

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