A new Public Religion Research Institute poll finds that just 42 percent of Americans believe that the American Dream – the idea that if you work hard you can succeed – still exists, down 11 percent from 2012. Sadly, this is part of a growing trend reflected in polls throughout the years.
A CNN poll from June found that 59 percent of Americans said the American Dream was unattainable, and young adults, more than any other age group, were more likely to feel that way. A February McClatchy-Marist pollsshowed 80 percent say it’s harder to achieve the American Dream than ever before. A recent Washington Post poll finds that just 39 percent believe their children will have a better life than they have.
Aaron Blake writes for the Washington Post about the swelling pessimism of America under Obama:
[T]here is effectively a cottage industry of polling on the American Dream. It’s kind of a big deal here, after all, and is one of the best ways to ask Americans about their true views of the economy. And almost all of it shows hard times for the American Dream, in one way or another.
But before you attribute this decline to Republicans who are very unhappy with President Obama and his leadership, consider this: Republicans (55 percent) are far more likely to believe in the American Dream than Democrats (33 percent). The 2012 report, for instance, showed Republicans at 60 percent and Democrats at 50 percent. So the difference is mostly attributable to Democrats.
In large part that surprising finding owes to the fact that many of Obama’s core constituencies – young adults, Hispanics, and African Americans – are the ones that have suffered the most under his leadership.
Of course, President Obama is selling a different idea. He desperately wants people to believe that the he’s guided America through the rocky shoals of the recession and into the calm waters of recovery.
“I think you’d have to say that we’ve managed the economy pretty well and business has done okay,” President Obama recently told The Economist. “Since I have come into office, there’s almost no economic metric by which you couldn’t say that the U.S. economy is better and that corporate bottom lines are better. None.”
That’s not true. One need look no further than median household income to see why most hardworking Americans in this country continue to feel left out of whatever recovery the president is selling. A recent report by the Department of Commerce found that median income was $51,939 – eight percent lower than it was before the recession started. Incomes haven’t just stagnated. They’ve gone straight backwards.
This nation needs change. And it needs a new party to see it through. Here’s Sen. John Thune and Sen. Cathy McMorris Rodgers making the case on why that party should be Republicans:
In homes all across America, working parents struggle to pay their bills at the end of the month. College graduates move back in with their parents because student loan debts are so high. Young families juggle two jobs just to afford their rising health care premiums.
Our party has heard Americans’ concerns, and that’s why we’ve put forward hundreds of bills to help grow the economy, create jobs, expand opportunity and give American families hope for tomorrow. Our conversations with people back home, from the supermarket to the church pews to the doctor’s office, have helped us develop legislative solutions that will make life better for Americans in every corner of this country.
The contrast between the two parties couldn’t be more clear: Republicans are working to create jobs for Americans. Democrats are working to save their own.
So long as Harry Reid control the Senate with an iron grip, so long as Democrats continue to blockade tough votes, and so long as Republicans are left with no recourse for having to watch their ideas whither on the vine, nothing is going to change in Washington. And the American Dream we spoke of earlier? It will continue to become a distant memory.