"The American Dream" was a popular fairy tale of the latter half of the 20th century, featuring a plucky-but-average citizen triumphing over the circumstances of his birth in a golden-hued land of opportunity. Modern Americans seem almost embarrassed their forefathers ever embraced such a myth.
The fact of the American Dream—a nation in which it didn't matter that you were born in a minority, or a woman, or gay, or in poverty, or in a poor neighborhood with shitty schools, because with hard work you could still grow up to land a good solid middle management job with the Xerox corporation and purchase a suburban tract home and an Edsel— never actually existed. But the dream of the American Dream certainly did, as documented by the proto-Campbellian works of the great anthropologist Horatio Alger. Like many ancient beliefs, however, this one has fallen by the wayside, as Americans are increasingly forced to face the fact that economic mobility is low, economic inequality is high, and It Ain't How It Used to Be Cause Those People Are Taking Over.
The most recent poll numbers reveal a populace that stands ready to put away childish beliefs: "By almost two to one — 64 percent to 33 percent — Americans say the U.S. no longer offers everyone an equal chance to get ahead, according to a Bloomberg National Poll." For every Luke Larkin struggling upwards, there are now two Dr. Gonzos, sick of this shit.
We can only pray that our nation's newfound cynicism does not cause them to turn to the devil snark.