In 1931, historian James Truslow Adams coined the phrase “American Dream” to capture the optimism of the American people. It’s built upon the self-evident truth, identified by Thomas Jefferson, that all men are created equal.
But Jefferson’s American dream included enslaving more than 600 people. Later, when the multicultural children of immigrant factory workers found social mobility and economic security, all Americans were not included. Today, competing visions of the American dream are driving Democrats and Republicans apart.
Democrats have wholeheartedly embraced the rights revolution and its new definition of the American dream. They want to champion diversity by expanding rights and individual choice to those who have been historically overlooked.
Meanwhile, symbols of white supremacy along with Trump banners were on full display at the U.S. Capitol riot. Are extremists, who are not interested in enlarging the American dream to everyone, winning the battle for the GOP’s soul?
Now we have dueling legislations. President Biden’s COVID-19 relief bill provides both a handout and a hand up to all challenged American workers, while Republican state lawmakers have proposed election laws that would limit minority voters.
It’s a struggle to determine what the American dream will mean in America’s future.