American Dream Dies in Our Wallet

Lust for fame and fortune have hijacked the nation's true promise
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2009 7:26 AM CDT
"It is not an all-or-nothing deal, that it is not, as in hip-hop narratives and in Donald Trump's brain, a stark choice between the penthouse and the streets," David Kamp writes of the American dream.   (Shutter Stock)
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(Newser) – To the dreary lexical suite that defines our times—greed, foreclosure, stimulus and debt—we must add humility, David Kamp writes in Vanity Fair. Our gluttonous pursuits and ridicule of middle-class life has landed us in the grip of a recession and twisted the shape of the American Dream, he notes. “What needs to change is our expectation of what the dream promises,” Kamp writes.

The “American Dream,” a phrase coined in 1931, originally expressed an abstract, egalitarian interpretation of the Founding Fathers’ “pursuit of Happiness.” But modern Americans have reshaped it into a dollar sign and a "Juiceball Era" of "steroidally outsized" purchasing. The true American Dream "should be embraced as the unique sense of possibility this country gives its citizens—the decent chance to scale the walls and achieve what you wish," notes Kamp.