What Does It Mean To Be American?

November 13, 2017

Bo LeBrun


The big question in today’s society is if the Rags-to-Riches American Dream is Possible.     Is financial stability important? And is good financial stability a good thing? Erik Sherman from Forbes states that, “77% of Americans don’t believe the iconic rags-to-riches American Dream is possible.” This is important to understand because America is becoming less dependent on values and integrity and more dependent on technology.

 When people were asked if they believe that you could start poor and work hard that anyone could achieve the American Dream. Against common thought only about 23% of Americans believe that this is true.  This number broken out by community type is about 20% in rural areas and about 24% in urban areas.  Today’s technology could be a possible explanation of why these are such low percentages.  Many Americans are losing their jobs due to today’s technologically advanced society.  From this we can argue that Americans are becoming more dependent on technology, even if it makes the American Dream harder to achieve.

In another article by Samantha Smith, she says, “36% of Americans have already achieved the American Dream.”  It is also stated in the same article that 46% of Americans are on the path to success of the American Dream.  That is already 82% of Americans who say the American Dream is possible.  The American dream means different things to different people, however. Far fewer Americans say “becoming wealthy” is essential to the American dream than say the same about personal freedom and a good family life because these are both possible in other countries.  

In the same article, Smith says, “By contrast, majorities say ‘freedom of choice in how to live’ is 77%, having a good family life is 70% and retiring comfortably is 60% are essential to their view of the American dream.”  Smith states that, “Partisanship is not a major factor in these views. Across all items, there are modest or no partisan differences in views of what is essential to the American dream.”  

The Rags-to-Riches American Dream is possible for just about everyone that is willing and able to work for it.  By this I mean that as an American you cannot expect to have everything you need handed to you, if you want something you must earn it.  Some of the evidence above might say different but it truly is possible.  My parents started out working on a ranch making $1800 a month with two kids, living in an old house on the ranch and now they own 25 acres and my dad runs his own business where all of the equipment we own is completely paid off except for the excavator.  

Photo by wfbakker2



  1. Olivia 3 years ago

    This was very interesting to me because of the book, “The Great Gatsby”. I do not think achieving the American Dream is possible because of the way the US is set up. However, I do agree that the American Dream looks different for everyone, so maybe the American Dream is possible to some. You may find this article interesting and may help with you statistics.

  2. Nathan 3 years ago

    I completely agree that the American dream is a much harder goal for most people. Coming to America a lot of times does not give you more opportunities especially if you are a minority. Today America is struggling, more than we might think. Yet the American dream might just be changing, like you say being “wealthy” might not be people’s dream, that might not be what is important anymore.

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