opinion | tom keane
In the dumps with the American Dream
We used to be ambitious and enthusiastic; now the new normal is malaise. Shouldn’t we strive for more?
A new survey asked what respondents thought were the most important elements of the American Dream. Where once economic success and upward mobility would have ranked high, they ranked last in the poll. Respondents said they increasingly valued things such as good marriages and “a long and healthy retirement.” In other words, we just want to be happy. But America historically never was about being happy. For us, it’s been “the pursuit of happiness,” a phrase that is all about striving, not attaining. The American Dream required ambition and taking risks; it was about fame, fortune, and making things better for the next generation. No more, it seems. We’re all a bit frightened and ready to hunker down.