Is The American Dream Dead Or Alive?

by Hank Coleman

Is the American Dream dead?Jon Acuff who wrote an incredible book called “Quitters” recently asked his Twitter followers (follow him @JonAcuff and follow me on Twitter @MoneyQandA), “When did you realize that you were never going to be able to slam dunk a basketball? Have you realized yet?” We all have dreams and goals that are incredibly lofty. I have 100 goals to complete before I die. I know what you are thinking. What does this have to do with the American Dream? It has everything to do with our dreams, the American Dream, and what we think that we can accomplish in our lives. Is you glass half full or is it half empty? Do you think that you will ever hit a hole in one? Do you ever think that you will be able to retire? The questions are one in the same. They get to the very fabric of our collective psyche.

I don’t think that the American Dream is dead. The American Dream is alive and well more than ever. Granted, the economy is not helping shore up everyone’s confidence. It is hard to think about retirement and the golden years for someone in their 20s and 30s when their 401k retirement plans and Roth IRAs continue to be rocked by the stock market’s turmoil. One thing that I personally feel is that the American public is resilient and optimistic.

Why It Is Hard To Pin Down The American Dream?

This question is almost harder to answer itself than figuring out if it is dead or not. It is almost searching for the meaning of life. The problem is that my definition of the American Dream is probably not what you consider the quintessential American Dream. Maybe our dreams are very similar, but maybe you have a few extra features that I do not have. We each have our own ideas about what the perfect American life is supposed to be like. It is something that is ingrained in us from birth with a large helping of beliefs that we have learned over the years from our parents. There is nothing wrong with each of us having slightly different dreams, but it does make it a little more difficut to figure out if the American Dream is dead if we can’t even accurately define it at times.

What I Think The American Dream Is

I personally think that the American Dream is simply our goal and desire to make a better life for our children than we had. It includes eventually buying a home. And, for some people, it may include having the opportunity to start his or her own business. But, I have seen it all over the world. I even saw the same desire in most Iraqi citizens when I served overseas in the Army. Everyone simply wants a better life than they knew growing up. We want our children to have it a little easier, a little better, and be a little more secure than how we had it growing up. It was the same things our parents wanted for us as well. Does the economy hamper the American Dream? Of course it does, but the dream is not dead. Maybe for some it is simply delayed. Maybe for others it means that we have to work and fight just a little harder than we had in the past.

Is your a glass half full or half empty? This question alone may play a bigger role than anything else in determining if the American Dream is dead. Americans and even citizens across the world are resilient. We are optimistic. We believe that deep down that the American Dream is not dead.

What about you? Is the American Dream dead in your opinion? Are you a glass half full or half empty type of person? I’d love to hear your comments below.

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About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is the founder of Money Q&A, an Iraq combat veteran, a Dr. Pepper addict, and a self-proclaimed investing junkie. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and is currently pursuing his Certified Financial Planner credentials. Email him directly at Hank[at]MoneyQandA.com.


Hank Coleman has written 524 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.


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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Marie at FamilyMoneyValues

I’m glad to hear you think the dream is alive.

To me, the American Dream means that everyone has a shot at making it big – rags to riches. It means that we (citizens or government) do not structure, condone, foster or encourage division by class in any way.
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Hank

A shot at rags to riches…I like that. That’s a good way to think about it. Thanks!
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PKamp3

I’ve got the home, but I still can’t dunk the basketball. A series of unfortunate events prevented it this year (haha). 2012 is my year!

(5’10″ and I can dunk a golf ball… a few inches to go).
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Hank

I never wanted to dunk a basketball, but I don’t know if I can count my life as complete if I don’t get that hole in one though.
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Brad Moore

I am 6 feet and was able to dunk about a total of 5x in college. Just needed to share that.

I’ve thought quite a bit about this American Dream. And I have questioned whether the house should be included. Here’s why: My wife and I were aggressively pursuing purchasing a home about 6 months ago. Then, I began running into all these folks who were…for lack of a better term…full-time traveling.

A guy named Adam Baker traveling Australia and New Zealand with his wife and kid – working whatever job along the way. I also met quite a few desiring to do this through Free Agent Academy – an online employment school. Anyhow…a lot of these folks say they can do this because they DON’T HAVE A BIG MORTGAGE PAYMENT. For a guy that is always looking for the next adventure – this travel thing w/ out a mortgage payment sounded fascinating! Buying a house and settling down…..sounded kinda boring.

So we are renting and free to leave at any time!
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funancials

I think dreams are alive. I (much like yourself) am constantly looking for things to accomplish. I actually just wrote an article for Financial Samurai about “the American dream” of homeownership – which I think is dying.
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funancials

I’ll also add that I’m 6′ – could dunk a basketball up until Jr. year of college (then beer starting weighing me down).
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Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter

For me the American Dream is still alive but requires an adjustment. The American Dream should be “live the life you want.” You don’t have to be married, have 2.5 children, and own a home to fulfill the American Dream. To me the dream is the freedom and safety to do what you want with you life which is something that many people in other parts of the world don’t have.
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Joey Alfer

The question on whether or not the American Dream exists or still exists really boggles down to how one defines the American Dream. If one were to believe in the idealistic aspect of it, they are more likely to achieve their dreams. However, if one were to believe in the American Dream as how successful you are in achieving material success, and base said success with your possessions, they would more likely feel unsatisfied with attaining their dream.

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