By Ryan Ryu’25 and Sebastian Komaritsky’25
On Sunday, October 29th, the sixth episode of Common Ground took place in the Tisch Family Auditorium at The Frederick Gunn School. This episode was titled “The American Dream: Wake Up Call?” Along with host Jane Whitney, an exceptional roster of panelists, including Sohrab Ahmari, Jahana Hayes, David Leonhardt, and Alissa Quart, defined and discussed the future of the American Dream.
At this event, the American Dream was defined as multiple different things; various speakers at the event had different perspectives on what the American Dream is or was. The American Dream has become a somewhat controversial topic because some debate whether it’s still alive or has been completely killed off. At the event, the panelists went into detail about the different perspectives of the dream. Some argued that the American Dream was “doing better economically and financially than one’s parents.” In contrast, others argued that the American dream is social mobility and moving up a social class. The speakers also talked about the history of the American Dream and how it has changed since the birth of the nation, when many of our founding fathers believed it was to own private property. Still, since the Industrial Revolution, it has changed into the idea of social mobility because it has become increasingly difficult to own land in America.
Congresswoman Jahana Hayes was a panelist on the episode and connected her life’s work to her ideas pertaining to the American Dream. She talked about overcoming poverty, homelessness, and teenage pregnancy. Despite all of this, she was able to become a congresswoman and the 2016 Teacher of the Year. Other panelists stressed that the United States of America has become increasingly individualized rather than focused on community. Due to this, the average American life expectancy has gone noticeably down since the 80s and is the lowest of all rich countries. Americans are “grumpy” nowadays because they cannot achieve the American dream.
One panelist stressed the importance of legislating from the perspective of the working class people rather than from the perspective of a legislator in order that the country does not regress but rather progresses. The Constitution allows the people to create a more perfect union, to help each generation build off previous generations to create a better America. If Americans want the American dream to come back fully, they need to become a community and be able to depend on each other. All Americans need to be on board, though. The country must return to our roots of cooperation regardless of political stance and revive a more united America. Only then will the American Dream return.