The United States is unique in terms of its current political culture. As the supplementary reading demonstrates, this culture presents a combination of diverse and even seemingly mutually exclusive reference points and moral ideals. Specifically, the elements of the American worldview include individualism (self-reliance rather than mutual reliance) and indivisibility or unity simultaneously, and such elements manage to coexist despite being partially incompatible (“The American political culture,” n.d.). However, there is no conflict between these specific values if unity is understood as the nation’s indivisibility in terms of guiding philosophies and when such principles include each person’s total responsibility for their life situation.
Additionally, the supplementary reading hints at the role of black-and-white thinking peculiar to moral issues in framing political debate and decision-making. Being among the most moralistic nations, Americans tend to emphasize the moral element of conflicts and issues in political life, which leads to confrontational and aggressive political debates (“The American political culture,” n.d.). From my observations, the Christian understanding of moral and immoral acts informs political discussions to a large extent, especially in personal and sensitive issues, such as pregnancy decisions, same-sex marriage, and self-identification. The lack of unanimity between the proponents of secular humanism and those with a religious mindset reveals that unity might be an unattainable goal.
Nowadays, the American Dream and its large-scale influences remain widely discussed. On a positive note, this idea can foster optimistic thinking, enthusiasm, and the boldness to dream, which might make it realistic for some individuals. Personally, I was often taught to rely on myself and focus on my studies to succeed and improve the family’s financial situation in the future. However, my parents never stressed the insignificance of a person’s initial opportunities and background, so I do not really believe that everyone is capable of achieving the American Dream.
I oppose the need to promote this idea in its current form to future generations. On the one hand, I agree with the “work hard” part of it; this can be a good motivator for those willing to receive support without contributing to the nation’s prosperity. On the other hand, from my perspective, the point about one’s background as a meaningless factor is ignorant and misleading. For instance, U.S. citizens may get an education and work long hours, but income inequality, as measured through the Gini index, continues to rise, causing more skepticism regarding the idea in question (Wolak & Peterson, 2020). I knew two young entrepreneurs from very different family backgrounds that had startup businesses.
One of them was a child of wealthy parents, so his project’s failure did not affect his financial situation to a large extent, enabling him to start another business. In contrast to that, the second person had serious issues when paying back a business loan. Therefore, the American Dream as something that even the most disadvantaged person can achieve should not be promoted to avoid irrational optimism and dissatisfaction.
Finally, the implications of continuing to teach the American Dream might include increases in mental disease and disappointment among young Americans. Achieving the American Dream might be possible if one has exceptional talents, access to education, a firm self-belief, and a generous amount of luck. The examples of self-made successful people from poor neighborhoods, for instance, Oprah Winfrey, are widely used to prove that everyone can gain recognition (Woods, 2017).
However, the fact that such cases are rare and exceptional remains misrepresented, as well as a simple truth that resources are not unlimited, so all people cannot be millionaires. These manipulations can make those believing in the American Dream think that they do not work hard enough, which can have implications for self-esteem and one’s emotional state.
The American political culture. (n.d.).
Wolak, J., & Peterson, D. A. (2020). The dynamic American dream. American Journal of Political Science, 64(4), 968‑981. Web.
Woods, L. (2017). 10 billionaires like Oprah Winfrey who grew up poor. CNBC. Web.