In the movie Moscow on the Hudson (1984) Vladimir Ivanoff, a frustrated jazz musician living in the overregulated and dysfunctional USSR escapes to New York City, only to be initially bewildered and then angered by the chaotic freedom he sees around him. Eventually Ivanoff comes to realize that America is not a utopia, but rather a society in which you are free to be responsible for your own happiness.
That contrast once lay at the heart of the American Dream, of a country where you have the freedom to achieve anything if you strive for it. But while the rhetoric of the American Dream is used just as often by politicians, it has come to mean something else nowadays, namely government subsidized goodies to help you "realize" the American Dream. This subtle distinction has transformed the American Dream from one of individualistic independence, to one of government dependency.
The left has made a specialty of demeaning the American Dream as bourgeois, capitalist, exploitative, consumerist and middle classist. There is a reason for that since the entire idea of the American Dream competes with the entire agenda of the left. The American Dream is premised on the idea that social and economic mobility can be accomplished through less government and more industry, rather than more government and less industry. Like the left, it promises that the individual can bypass class obstacles to succeed. But it comes without the left's collectivist limitations on personal ambition.
That is why the left began to find America more threatening than Europe, because American capitalism offered a clear path to a viable and free life that competed with their class warfare ideology. That is why the American far left was never able to spread its ideas into the general population until it began co-opting the counterculture and the civil rights movement. That is also why America is less socialist than most of its First World peers.
As American Liberals took on the ideas of the American left, rather than directly attacking the American Dream, the way the likes of Howard Zinn or Michael Moore would, they instead subverted it by redefining it as a Government Subsidized Dream. Consider recent pieces of legislation such as the American Dream Downpayment Initiative, which helped subsidize home purchases for the Democratic base, or the American Dream Act, which is targeted at provide amnesty and subsidize college educations for illegal aliens, again another Democratic base.
This redefinition of the American Dream from relying on personal initiative and hard work, to a government subsidized project which depends on your race and usefulness to the party is part of the left's profound Trojan Horse America project. Under the Trojan Horse America project, traditional American ideas and values are not shelved or condemned, but rather redefined as labels for the left's agenda.
The key element in this transformation is to turn individualistic American values into collectivist government ones... while redefining individual initiative as selfish, extremist and dangerous. The "New American Values" come wrapped in red, white and blue packaging, but they foster government dependency, instead of individual independence. They encourage people to engage in groupthink, instead of thinking for themselves. They class people based on categories and then reduce them to another statistic in a particular group. And then they shuffle their statistics and hand out bags of goodies to the members of the deserving classes, the ones who vote for them. And they paste a label on that reading, "The American Dream".
The result is an America that looks more like the USSR, than the America of the past. An overregulated society where there are laws for everything, yet achieving anything increasingly requires that you either be a "member of the party" or step outside the law. A country where nothing seems to work anymore and everything has to be exported from abroad. Where everyone believes in the government, yet no one actually believes the government can change anything. This is the American Nightmare that the left is steadily replacing the American Dream with.
To the left there was never an American Dream, only the whole litany of dead indians, striking coal miners and beaten freedom riders. A deformed version of American history almost indistinguishable from that which was taught in Soviet textbooks. The American Dream to them was nothing more than a low middle class desire to acquire a home and car at the expense of the poor.
But let's take a look at how in the Epic of America. "The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement... It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.
The American Dream, that has lured tens of millions of all nations to our shores in the past century has not been a dream of material plenty, though that has doubtlessly counted heavily. It has been a dream of being able to grow to fullest development as a man and woman, unhampered by the barriers which had slowly been erected in the older civilizations, unrepressed by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for the simple human being of any and every class."
These phrases make it all too obvious what the left is really trying to destroy, when it set out to destroy and replace the American Dream. The American Dream was not acquisitional, it was about being able to step outside a system and achieve your goals, whatever they may be, on your own. To live as a human being, rather than being repressed by a social system which forces you into static classes. Such a system is of course fundamentally incompatible with tyranny. And if you are going to impose such a tyranny, you need to get rid of that sort of escape hatch first.
The left today openly argues that independence is an outmoded and elitist notion. That individualism is the product of arrogant privilege, and must give way to the interdependence of socialism and global humanism. But by doing so they create a false image of the difference between their way and the American Way. The American Way has never barred people from pursuing collective endeavors, what it has sought to do is bar them from enforcing that collectivism on others.
Tat is the fundamental difference between the American Way and the distorted government run sham that liberalism is peddling at gunpoint. Whether it's Card Check or Health Care rammed through Congress-- liberalism does not allow Americans to choose their level of association. Instead it dictates those levels from the top down, through the government and its affiliated organizations, such as union leaderships.
There is nothing wrong with a union, so long as people are free to work without joining one and companies are free to hire whomever they choose. But liberals cannot accept freedom. Instead it demands that membership and unionization be mandatory. Similarly liberals cannot accept the idea that people want to opt out institutionalized health care. So it is made mandatory. And when in poll after poll the majority say that they don't want it, liberals respond that they are obligated to protect the rights of the minority by imposing it on everyone.
And with that American liberals have once again pulled off their mask and revealed their contempt for democracy and individualism, believing that they have the right to rule over the American people as the "Protectors of the Poor", a title used by numerous kings and tyrants throughout history, from Alfred the Great to Vladimir Lenin.
The Democrats promise that if we give them power, they will rule with a level of fairness that we ourselves are not capable of. And when they have looted all the treasury, and have their mobs to bay for anyone's blood who questions them, when there is a law and a rule for everything, but no one obeys them if they can get away with it, when there is a smiling tyrant on every wall offering us a tenth of our own income back in government coupons... then we will truly be a progressive society that any student of history would recognize.
The American Dream is not a mere dream of commerce, but a dream of freedom. Freedom in labor, freedom in industry, freedom in thought and speech, and freedom of association. That is the American Dream we are fighting for. That is the American Dream that the left is fighting against. We can best defeat the left by offering the American Dream as the antidote to the American Nightmare.