The American Daydream…
What was it? What is this strange invisible fragment of faith, devotion, and drive that we put so much damned stock in? It’s nothing to do with the growing fervent of mass religion or birth-placement in the throes of modern society. You don’t have to follow some strict path down a pre-determined line only available to a cardigan clad select few. You don’t have to own a cross or cape or magic underwear. You don’t have to believe that only those that have gone through water torture can have access to a crystalline perfection of some legendary “life” after this confusing torturous ball of fuck-all on the planet Earth. The American Dream is just a real and palpable as any religion, philosophy, or imaginary high stasis on the planet Xenu.
The American Dream was a 1950s ideal created by a patriot visionary. Eisenhower formulated an American plan/vision that seemed close enough and relatively palpable enough to just maybe work. If you thought religion was a control mechanism for the seething masses of hysteria, then damnit, this could give the hard working people of the greatest nation on Earth a wing and a prayer whist still keeping them under a militant American thumb. The overall theme was that if you worked hard enough, studied hard enough, spend enough hours with diligent practice and patience, and dressed the part (with tie, closely cropped hair, and short sleeves) you could find yourself successful enough to own (or heavily mortgage) a home, a car, a wife, a dog, and about 2.5 kids.
That was the American Dream. Simple. Direct. Something to be proud of. A piece of the pie and enough spare money to take the family to a John Wayne Saturday matinee. The American Dream wasn’t a $102 Million Dollar IRA. The American Dream wasn’t being followed around by a camera crew yelling at your McDonalds beef fat miniature Beauty Queen. The American Dream wasn’t pitching a youtube fit directed at your rich parents for not forking over the money to buy you a 5 Series BMW for your birthday. The American Dream was honesty and hard work. The American Dream was busting your ass for Forty-Plus-Hours-A-Week and seeing some results. The American Dream was seeing a wholesome double rainbow when you pulled into the driveway of your cookie-cutter home. The American Dream was living your life by the Golden Rule, “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.” Simple. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Be honest. Be a strong member of your community and work toward making America a better place. Strive to be educated and turn that education into a model to share with your fellow man. Sure, it was a bit of 1950s Boy Scout brainwashing but it seemed simple enough to work.
It wasn’t for everyone. Not everyone could be a teacher or engineer. Not everyone could be the Vice President or Sales Manager of their company. Marketing wasn’t even a title. CEO might as well have been a title reserved for an Astronaut. There always needed to be worker bees. The average every-day Jimmy Stewart needed to punch the clock, break a sweat, joke with the other men of the company, and go home just in time to see Johnny hit a homerun against the opposing Springfield Colts. However, the American Dream wasn’t too far out of reach. It was something still palpable and attainable for the common man, as long as you worked hard enough. It was something to strive for and it kept your eye on a goal.
People around the world saw this. They knew that if they at least got to American soil, that they would be given a chance. They would work hard, work three jobs, live in shitty apartments, toil and suffer and work their fingers until they bled… but if they worked hard enough and never lost the faith – they would be able to have a shot at the AMERICAN DREAM. There were those “Davids” that fought long and hard to defeat the Goliath mountain of naysayers and impossible obstacles that every day life through at their face. Just hold on a little longer. Just a little longer and there will be a breaking point. If not for us… then for our children…
Unfortunately as simple and robust as it sounds, the American Dream dwindled. Instead of working as an attainable goal, it morphed into a control mechanism. Over the decades it transformed into something simply unattainable for a vast majority of Americans. Eventually, the American Dream was only offered to the white middle class of America. Some of those caucasians were also just a little too euro-ethnic to be brought into the warming folds of a suburban Sunday Edition life. There were plumbers, electricians, construction workers, garbage collectors, and the like that were deemed too unfortunate or too uneducated to be deserving of such a life. If they worked in a job class that was not equal to ours, they could never be allowed to rise to our level. We paid them like shit. We treated them as a sub-class. The middle class began to think too highly of themselves and felt that they were on the same playing field as the super rich. So if “we” (the middle class) began to look down on those who we felt were below us… how do you think the “rich” began to see these usurpers of the throne?
The rich suddenly became aware that the worker bees were capable of purchasing elements of luxury (not that that had everything to do with those creators of luxury wanting a bigger chunk of the wealth – making sub-classes and accessible products for this rising middle class). The wealthy began to despise this uprising. They too saw the rising tide of unworthy peers.
America devoured itself. We didn’t want success from small business owners. They didn’t like that the underclass could taste the good life. Sure, we want over all success… because success is money, and money brings us all to a better lifestyle, better leisure, perhaps a better future of spoiled brats that never have to work hard or take for granted all of the blood, sweat, and tears that it took to get here. So as the rich developed a class of soft caucasian delicacy, the middle class dove harder and harder into the fray because, GODDAMNIT WE WERE PROMISED SOMETHING. We were promised that if we worked hard we would be rewarded. We were promised that if we put the long hours in, that if we sacrificed ourselves and our families and our youth that at the end of the road we would have something to show for it.
In the end, the rich mongers stole your savings, devoured your IRA and stock portfolios. They taxed you out of your homes, destroyed your facilities of education and made it too expensive to actually better yourselves.
There was no revolution. There was no uproar. The wealthy played their games with our futures and didn’t even singe the loose fibers on their mohair jackets. They didn’t go to jail. They weren’t punished. They don’t play by the same rules as we “Regular Americans” have to play by. The closest we got was a few hordes of unwashed post-grad students that wandered away from a Dave Matthews concert and decided to throw up a tent. The anger and angst was misguided and had no purpose. Much like the attention span of our current generation, it fizzled and went back to chuckling at internet memes on social networks. We gave up.
We gave up on the American Dream. Not because it wasn’t possible, but because we were too satisfied with our own reflection in the mirror. Like any talented boxer, we were told that we were the best. We were told that we were too good, that we couldn’t be defeated. We were defeated. We were lazy and stupid and got knocked out in the first round that was hungrier and meaner that we were. We were happy that the hired help continued to bring us our meals and toys. We never questioned why. We never stopped to realize that we had pissed it all away for the simple matter that we didn’t want to be bothered by it.
Now, we’re waking up to a Tuesday morning… being kicked out of our McMansions after we’ve paid the mortgage in full with interest. We stopped steering the car and took a nap. It’s our own faults that the people left in charge (to quote good ‘ol Tom) are Killers, Thieves, and Lawyers.
It’s time to take it back.