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The American Dream: Now and Then

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Julia Ostermann

on 19 February 2015

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Transcript of The American Dream: Now and Then

The American Dream
has not stayed static
in the 1950s the dream changed
post war economy boomed
new arrivals wanted more than freedom - they wanted prosperity as well
TV shows pushed the new economic Dream, starring wealthy, perfect families
suggested this was a country where it was possible to become really rich
materialistic side of the dream overtook the political side
57% think the American Dream does exist compared with 74% just prior to the Great Recession
America and the World
generally popular
most popular in Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, South Korea and Japan
American way of life is present in films, products and music

NSA actions
gun laws
use of drones
too much or too little intervention (Syria, Iraq, Ukraine)
Individualism vs. Collectivism
Individual's life belongs to him
right to make own decisions
right of own property
government is in place to protect citizens
should only be involved in specific aspects

Individual's life belongs to a group or society
group is more important than the individual
submits the group for the "common good"
government should also support the citizens when needed

declaration of independence supports individualism
USA is a constitutional republic
Healthcare Acts, gun laws etc. are criticized as collectivist ideas that lead to tyranny

Concept of the American Dream
The American Dream Today
History of the American Dream
The political system
Individualism vs. collectivism
America and the world
Concept of the Frontier
idea of an unknown place
freedom to create new ideas and rules
geographically the land west of the Missouri river ("wild west")
the pioneers had to work hard to fulfill their dreams

Political System
Key Information:
federal system
50 states, each has an elected Governor & a legislature consisting a state house and a state senate
one of the oldest democracies

more loosely organized than those in other countries
dominated by the republicans and the democrats
participation in elections is very expensive, parties depend on donations
Americans vote for a specific person
president is indirectly voted by the popular vote of a state
Current Situation:
Republicans expanded their
majority in the House of
President has the right to
use veto
The American Dream has changed
Fewer people believe in the American Dream
Racism is still present in the US (e.g. Ferguson)
Huge gap between the rich and the poor
"More a salad bowl than a melting pot"
The American Dream: Then and Now
by Carla and Julia
Concept of the American Dream Today
Concept of the American Dream Then
Early settlers hoped for a better life
Reasons for leaving Europe were religious persecution, political oppression and poverty
Dream of...
personal dream:
higher living standard
financial success
economic dream:
social dream:
classless society
"from rags to riches"
religious dream:
religious freedom
"promised land"

March 1629: Puritans came to America
Motivation: escape from political persecution in Europe
wanted religious freedom
they had a dream that America helped to fulfill
4. July 1776: Declaration of Independence
"...all men are created equal that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights" including "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness"
Significance for the 13 colonies: Freedom from British Rule
initial importance: formal declaration
philosophical importance: "all men are equal" as an association for freedom throughout the world
great hope to new Americans to fulfill their dreams
huge influence on the American Dream

unalienable - unverzichtbar
initial - anfänglich
April 1861: Civil War
Southern states
Northern States
Manifest Destiny 1845
wanted slavery
wanted to abolish slavery
1865: The Northern states won no slavery
more than 620.000 people had died
African Americans: huge step closer achieving their dream
drastic change of America's character and political system; under Abraham Lincoln, slavery gets legally abolished
World War 1
change of the American Dream
started up an economical and industrial boom (which had already begun in the end of the 19th century)
-> the war brought new advances
reshaped rural and urban life
spurring mass production to a higher degree
The great Depression 1929
terrible blow for the Americans
extremely high unemployment rate
people were suffering from hunger
citizens lost faith in the American government, but also in the American Dream
political dream:
Election of Obama
Criticism on education and healthcare system
Other standards
More sharing practice
financial success
not about getting rich, but having a good live

Making the world a better place

More tolerance
American Dream means something different












used by politicians in the 1840s
term of attitude in the 19th century
the country is destined to expand throughout the world
"Land of Opportunity"
spread democracy
important persons: Thomas Jefferson (president), John L. O'Sullivan,
president of the United States
date of birth: 13.04.1743 - 04.071826
one of the main authors of the
Declaration of Independece
Thomas Jefferson
first used the term "Manifest Destiny"
his article was published in the
New York Democratic Review
in 1845
John L. O'Sullivan
1789: Constitution establishes the principles of a democratic government

1791: Bill of Rights reduces the power of the government
enforces equality and freedom of citizens
1870: voting rights for men of all races, in some states even for women
"material" American Dream
New Deal
in response to the Great Depression
arranged from Franklin D. Roosevelt
series of programs which should help America out of the crisis
Relief: short-term solutions
Reform: long-term solutions
Recovery: reconstruction of economy
Martin Luther King: civil rights movement
born in Atlanta, 15.01.1929
a brother: Alfred & a sister: Christine
father/grandfather were ministers
after graduating he decided to become a minister as well
black people were treated badly
King began to fight for the rights of African American people
Barack Obama
elected 2008
"Yes, we can heal this Nation. Yes, we can repair the world."
first black president of the United States
World War 2
brought new work places
no unemployment
women were accepted in work field
huge step for women equality
brought America out of the crisis
Hope for a better America -> faith in American Dream again
New American Dream: a huge house, a car and a television
Martin Luther King: civil rights movement
black woman, Rosa Parks got arrested, because she didn't want to give up her seat
black people started to destroy buses
King became the president of this boycott
white terrorists tried to stop him fighting for equal rights
-> black & white people were separated in society
Kennedy shared King's opinion
1963: "I have a dream."
next american government introduced a new law
"Civil Rights Act" -> same opportunities for black people; voting right
04.04.1968 King was killed by a white racist
people still celebrate his birthday
The impact of the American Dream in past and present american lives
The American society is constantly changing - Do you think the values of the original American Dream do still concern the reality of life today?
Regarding the historical Background, in how far has America achieved or not achieved her idea of the
American Dream
Why is the Declaration of independence important for the American Dream? - Does it still has an impact on the modern american society?
The Civil Rights Movement is probably one of the most important events during America's history. - In how far does it influence modern live in America? Do you think America is the country with least racism?
In how far has the American Dream changed during today? (Values of modern societies compared to the past)
Regarding the political system (also health care system) - what ideas of the american dream are achieved/ aren't achieved?
Do you think the term "from rags to riches" can be transferred to reality in America? What impact has the own social background on the future regarding job, wealth etc.
Many other countries criticize America - are those critics justified?
Why is the American Dream important for America regarding historical context and politics?
What significance has the election of Barack Obama for America and the American Dream?
Do you think the American Dream still exist?
What do you think about the argument that Gun laws and the Healthcare system are bad because they are collectivist?
Outline the ideas of individualism and collectivism?
Do the american politics represent the American Dream?
Explain the developement of the American Dream.
Full transcript