Monday, May 4, 2015
The American Dream Gone Astray
(an Addendum to Why the Center Must Hold - Meritocracy and Political Centrism)
by Dr. Ellen Brandt
There have been several books, articles, and academic papers recently on the subject of The American Dream.
Most, we believe, have filtered the topic through one of two lenses of perspective which have prevailed in the politically chaotic landscape of the past couple of decades, sanctioned by an extraordinarily concentrated and narrow "Mainstream Media."
The first is the "One-World" Agenda - anything but Utopian - of the Limousine Liberals, which depends on an unelected Elite of Financial Engineers, economically "anointing" some groups of Americans, while carelessly harming many other groups - for philosophical reasons of their own choosing.
The second lens is the worldview of today's Libertarians, another largely unelected Elite with strongly anarchic and even Nihilistic tendencies, advocating a different sort of Financial Engineering, which economically "anoints" practically no one, but might harm many groups of Americans - for philosophical reasons of their own choosing.
In our Meritocratic view of this country and of modern Democracy per se, both of these lenses of perspective are damaged and damaging. No self-anointed Elite, whether it's an hereditary Aristocracy, an Oligarchy forged by military or political force, or a cadre of Financiers who've somehow gained power via a pervasive - and hopefully, temporary - "Wealth For Wealth's Sake" ethic, should ever be able to obscure the core principles and values on which this Nation was founded.
Those core principles and values are what make up The American Dream.
Here, then, is a primer on what we believe The American Dream Is - and what it Isn't:
1. The American Dream Is Not the dream of a mythic realm where All the Streets Are Paved With Gold.
The American Dream Is the universal goal of freedom from hunger and plague and desperate want. It's the promise and the assurance that our Democratic system will serve as a shelter against the ravages of extreme poverty for any of our citizens - and for all of them.
2. The American Dream Is Not your favored group of citizens - or mine or his or hers or theirs - gaining supremacy over all other groups of citizens.
The American Dream Is all groups and all constituencies - based on age or sex or ethnicity or religion or any other possible basis of division - finding collective ways to coexist happily, with respect and tolerance and kindness towards one another.
3. The American Dream Has Never Been garnering wealth or power or fame, so that you and yours can lord it over your fellow Americans.
The American Dream Is putting everybody's Meritocratic assets - their intelligence and talent and education and experience - to universal use, benefiting both you and yours and everybody else in the Nation.
4. The American Dream Is Not greedily amassing assets to provide for 20 generations of your blood descendants.
The American Dream Is striving for a productive and secure life for you and your immediate family, while working to extend the same opportunities and security for your fellow Americans, your de facto sisters and brothers and sons and daughters in our extended National family.
5. The American Dream Is Not hoarding media power, so that those who shout the loudest - or control the most outlets of propaganda - will be heard clearly and nearly incessantly, while the vast majority of American citizens become voiceless and, by extension, hopeless.
Open, free, and easy-access media, in all their permutations, Are a requisite of The American Dream, part and parcel of a government by and for the People.
6. The American Dream Does Not revolve around promoting your pet causes - whatever they are and however worthy you believe them to be - as the only ones that matter.
Concentrating on a narrow or too-partisan agenda tends to create rancor, while splintering the citizenry into groups working apart, instead of attempting to come together and reach consensus for the good of all, which Is the crux of The American Dream.
7. The American Dream Is Not looking at Life - or our Nation - as a game, computerized or otherwise, in which one "plays" to win the most points - or power - or dollars - one can, while everyone else is viewed as a competitor or an outright enemy, who needs to be vanquished, punished, and eventually obliterated.
America Is a venture - and an adventure - in which we are all on the same Dream Team. That which benefits Any of us should also benefit All of us. And the same rules which are allowed to apply to Any of us should likewise apply to All.
8. Similarly, The American Dream Is Not and Has Never Been a struggle for "survival of the fittest."
As Humans - and specifically, as Humans in America - we should strive to overcome the "law of the jungle" and our "animal nature." Democracy - and Democracies - evolved to minimize the civic ill-effects of Rule by an Elite, on the one hand, and Rule by an (anarchic) Crowd, on the other.
9. By extension, no one who believes in The American Dream, should strive to please and cajole and finagle their way into a powerful Elite, which we hope and pray will somehow "take care of us." The American Dream Is Not a dream of cringing servitude.
In contrast, The American Dream Is the dream of individualism and self-worth and self-reliance, which no powerful and pervasive Elite should ever be permitted to take away from you or me or any other American citizen.
10. Perhaps most important of all, The American Dream Forbids looking at any of one's fellow Americans as "The Other" - the strange, the unwanted, the discarded, the Them who are not Us.
We should be vigilant to stress that All Americans are US, as we are All U.S.
Read about and consider joining with us in the Bring Back the Meritocracy! project, a non-profit, non-monetized, non-partisan, and non-controversial long-term project helping the "Highly-Educated But Under-Employed" in the U.S. and abroad: