As individuals, we have our own ideas of what the American Dream consists of. To some it may be the realm of possibilities, while to others it may be fame and fortune. America is the only country in which the idea of a national dream has been continually upheld, and we have been a model for other nations to follow. Foreigners have come here to live the dream, and all the while Americans are still struggling to find it. As we continue to search high and low for how to find or how we can buy the dream and make it a reality, Americans have promiscuously thrown their money around in hopes of obtaining the dream and consequently are broke and more miserable than ever. Does the American Dream actually exist, and if so, is there really a way to achieve or acquire it after all these years of unrelenting pursuit?
The possibility of making our hopes and dreams become a reality used to lie at the heart of what we have come to know as the American Dream. Long before the present “the only credential...was the boldness to dream,” according to Vanity Fair contributing editor David Kamp. This dream has been what has drawn so many people to America; more pronounced was the sense of possibility. The American Dream was once a glimpse of simplicity as shown in Norman Rockwell's “Freedom from Want'” painting, portraying a family enjoying a nice meal, without the modern oversized house, extraordinary décor, or any other excessive things, just a simple family with a simple meal in a simple house, and they sure look happy. Historian John Tirman writes about the ideology of American exceptionalism and that “if the world is our oyster, there is no need for restrictive rules and regulations...” in his 2009 article. We have strayed from a modest way of life with our minds full of great possibilities, to a greedy and arrogant lifestyle with nothing ever being good enough and always wanting the unnecessary.
The American Dream has been altered many times over. Americans have wanted more for the next generation than what they themselves had. The coinage “American Dream” didn't come from our forefathers as some probably think, but from the book The Epic of America, by James Truslow Adams in 1931. “Yet there was never any promise...of extreme success [with the American Dream]” (Kamp). Adams version of the dream, however, was no longer equality but “according to his ability or achievement.” Thus, in 1935, the Social Security Act was put into place, resulting in benefits paid out to retirees “with built-in protection from penury” (Kamp). This was the first specific goal placed on the American Dream.
Another tenet set on the dream was home ownership. “Owning a home lies at the heart of the American Dream” says President Bush according to economist Paul Krugman in a 2008 New York Times Column. Politicians made it out that Americans who didn't own a home, were considered second class and not a real native. William J. Levitt, where “Levittown”...