National faith in the foundational concept of the ‘American dream’ seems to be faltering, with the majority of voters questioning its attainability, according to recent findings. Critical views on the current economic landscape under President Biden’s incumbency appear to be impacting public optimism.
The Wall Street Journal/NORC survey revealed a significant decrease in belief that hard work would lead to success in America; only 36% of participants felt this to be true, down markedly from 53% in 2012 and 48% in 2016 when polled by a different entity.
These figures shed light upon the growing economic vulnerability felt by a wide range of Americans, disregarding political party lines.
Doubts are intensifying about the robustness of the path towards improved living standards, despite positive indications of economic and societal advancement, the Journal says. Many feel as though ‘the deck is stacked against them,’ fostering a sense of disillusionment for half of the queried participants with the economic and political system.
A concerningly large segment of voters consider their nation’s state to have deteriorated in comparison to conditions 50 years ago, with 50% deeming life to be worse. A significantly smaller proportion, 30%, believe the country’s circumstances have improved.
This sentiment of systems being ‘rigged against people like me’ found resonance with half of the respondents, whereas just 39% did not align with this view.
The cherished concept of the American dream seems less attainable for certain key demographics like younger adults and women. Only around 28% of women surveyed still hold faith in the classic American notion of ‘pulling oneself up by the bootstraps’, that progress can be made through sheer grit and hard work. This takes on stark contrast when compared to the 46% men who still harbor this belief.
A similar disparity is observable in age groups too. Older voters, aged 65 and over, were more likely to resonate with these steadfast ideals, with 48% affirming them. However, among voters under the age of 50, this number dwindled significantly, again falling to around 28%.
The pervasive sense of uncertainty and discontent is echoed across political affiliations, with individuals on all sides expressing these feelings, as the WSJ details. One of the voices from the heartland is that of Oakley Graham, a domiciliary father from the Kansas City suburb of Greenwood, Missouri. Reflective of the contemporary American quandary, Graham concedes that he is, in parts, living the dream.
Enjoying suburban comfort in a pleasant house with a two-car garage, courtesy of his wife’s earnings as an electrical engineer, one could consider Graham to be flourishing. However, despite the outward signs of success, Graham acknowledges that money remains tight for them. He candidly reveals that, like his neighbors, he feels merely a few missed paychecks away from destitution.
Furthermore, he backs the notion that conditions today are decidedly less favorable than they were half a century back. To him, this downturn correlates strongly with last year’s historic ebb in the presence of union jobs. By contrasting his predicament with his grandfather’s, who held a maintenance job for the railroads and enjoyed a dignified retirement courtesy of his union pension, the divisions become clear.
At the other end of Missouri, in Springfield, lives John Lasher, a retired electrical inspector for aircraft carriers and submarines. A Trump supporter, Lasher states definitively that the American dream ‘is past tense’. According to him, there was a time when steady employment and consistently good job performance would yield corresponding rewards. Unfortunately, he believes that those times have disappeared.
In his perspective, recent shifts can be attributed heavily to Democratic policies. His personal pinch point? Surging prices, which he associates with the Biden administration. The cost-of-living increases, in his validate his belief that hard work nowadays merely allows one to make ends meet, with additional effort generally being focused on staying afloat financially rather than making any actual progress.
Another survey disclosed recently that less than half of voters in pivotal swing states – Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina – hold faith in President Biden’s ability to manage the economy effectively. This comprises merely 39% of voters; a stat RealClearPolitics reports.
Founder and Chairman of the League of American Workers, Steve Cortes, opines via a column on their website that national discontent (77% of surveyed voters believe the country is on the wrong track) is rooted principally in economic worries.
Out of the less-than-four-in-ten voters who had a favorable view of the President’s economic aptitude, a paltry 9% were confident enough to issue ‘strong approval’. This dwindling display of public confidence in current economic handling suggests that as long as prevailing economic policies spur rising prices, the broad support for traditional notions of American success will likely continue to diminish.
To summarise, while ‘the American dream’ might have been a shining beacon for many in the past, its glimmer seems to be dulling for a majority of modern Americans – regardless of age, gender or political affiliation. The current economic condition, under President Biden’s administration, only appears to reinforce this cynicism.
While there are still some who hold faith in traditional concepts of progress and success, the rising cost of living and economic uncertainty are invariably turning many away from the hopeful notion of the ‘American dream’. The chasm between life’s realities and the idyllic view of financial prosperity through sheer hard work continues to widen, making it a source of increasing concern for the American public.