The study’s authors, Carol Hostetter, Sabrina Williamson Sullenberger, and Leila Wood, observe that the palpable faith in meritocracy in the 90s faded, making way in the 2010s for a belief in what they call “The American Dream 2.0.” “In this version of the American Dream, anyone can go to college IF they have the resources, are ok about going into debt, can somehow get the coveted scholarship, are willing to go to community college, or come from a family of means,” they write. The new normal appears to be meritocracy with an asterisk.
New normal? I’m assuming this means normal for the dream, not for the reality the dream obscured. Regardless, Joe Pinsker, the article’s writer, uses a strange tone of lament. He concludes the brief article with this:
Taking all of this together, teens (or at least a few of them in that unnamed Midwestern state) have lost confidence in the power of meritocracy and gained faith in the power of money. Generally, an updated version is supposed to be better than its predecessor, but the American Dream 2.0 doesn’t seem like much of an improvement.
How is a truer representation not an improvement? The American Dream 2.0 would be better categorized as The American Truth. If our country’s youth are starting to have faith in that, which indeed is prey to the power of money, then we’re headed in a positive direction. It’s cause for celebration, not a dirge. The collapse of The American Dream is the only chance for this country to move forward, the only chance to work toward justice and equality and to get away from these ideals as co-opted buzzwords and corrupted, commodified concepts.
Thank goodness younger generations are growing up with their eyes open; I hope their hearts follow suit.