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Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have always been considered the fundamental aspects of American living. Currently, it is the year 2016, which also happens to be the year of the presidential election. The two main candidates that most American citizens focus on for this election are Bernie Sanders running for the Democratic Party and Donald Trump campaigning for the Republican Party. Both presidential candidates have one important thing in common, they both would like to reshape America. More specifically, both candidates would like to realize their own “American dream”. Based on both of the candidates’ presidential slogans, their true visions of the “American dream” can be analyzed. But, one of the most important questions that needs to be asked is “is the American dream still alive”. This question can be answered by the definition of the “American dream”, the “American dream” of the presidential candidates, how America has shaped the idea of the “American dream” over the years, as well as the several issues associated with the American dream and the presidency. The Main issues that effect America and the “American Dream” are immigration, education, and leadership.
The true Webster dictionary definition of the American dream is “the ideal that every US citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative”. At the start of America, a large amount of work was needed in order to properly structure this new country. Several colonists were apprehensive regarding leaving their old country and becoming strangers in a new land. A large amount of determination was also required in order to be successful during the genesis of the colonies. Originally, America was essentially empty and full of potential for future colonies. At the start, America was a location used to escape religious persecution and unfair laws. In hopes of rebellious freedom, the settlers were willing to give up whatever luxuries they possess in order to gain something bigger than themselves. The dreams of these people were simple. The dream was to settle their families in a new land and provide their children with a better future. At the time, the “American dream” was very minimalistic yet, at the same time these people wanted something greater than themselves.
Historically, presidential candidates have a generally attractive slogan that reaches the public in appealing forms. For example “Keep Cool and Keep Coolidge” by Calvin Coolidge or “Yes We Can” by Barrack Obama. All of these phrases are pieces of American History. Several Americans, young and old, look upon and reference these phrases and achieve a feeling of patriotism. All of these slogans were used as a rhetorical device to grab the attention of American citizens. The presidents and their campaign managers understood how to release propaganda and how to capture an audience or a desired group of people. But, aside from grabbing the attention of the citizens from a political standpoint, it also creates an image for the “American dream”. The newest presidential candidates also have a campaign slogan. For instance, Donald Trump’s slogan is “Let’s Make America Great Again”. Which poses the question; “what made America great initially?” All Americans must ask themselves this question in order to understand Donald Trump’s campaign slogan. Apparently, this candidate’s slogan is open to interpretation and new ideas. Another Example would be Bernie Sanders campaign slogan, which is “We’ve All Come to Look for America”. This phrase alludes to the beginning of the American colonies and the pilgrimage of immigrants. Both of these presidential slogans carry a tone of appreciation and patriotism.
There are several factors that affect the “American dream” that most citizens create in their minds. These factors and issues include immigration, education, and the choice of Leadership. In fact these issues are some of the major campaign issues that are being addressed in the 2016 presidential election. At the founding of America, every one of the settlers emigrated from another country. At this time, people moving to another country for a better life was not a major issue and did not negatively affect many people already assimilated in America. Today there is a mass abundance of racial bias concerning immigration. Several concerned citizens feel that “If we pop a couple of ‘em off and leave the corpses laying on the border, maybe they’ll see we’re serious about stopping immigrants”(Savan). Currently, there are major restrictions on how an individual can enter America. These restrictions can be seen more prominently at the Mexican- American Border. In fact “Obama’s DHS also made credible fear standards for refugees fleeing to our borders more rigorous, then more inhumanely called for expeditious removal of the thousands of unaccompanied children arriving at our border who are fleeing violence”( Linthicum). There are several tests and requirements that need to be met by the individual trying to immigrate. At the start of America, education was for the wealthy and it did not include much of a curriculum or a standard learning system. In more recent decades such as the 60’s and 70’s, a college education became a social standard. “The college experience has undergone several periods of evolution and revolution. As a child of the 60s, I remember the unrelenting clamor of students that their education was not “relevant,” as if we knew in any vague way what that meant” (Baack). Education has become more complicated and advanced since the beginning of the school system. Instead of the basic learning procedure, the education system appears to be more concerned with test results. And as a result “colleges have, over time, evolved and responded to the world around them” (Baack). Price has also become an issue regarding college tuition and student loan debt. Proper Leadership has become an expressed issue among the citizens of the United States. Citizens of the United States feel that their leader should do their best to provide them with the ability to obtain the “American Dream”. More specifically, the President or “Presidential candidate should have an idea of how they would like to run the country” (Gomez). An argument can be made that these issues are not major problems occurring in the nation at this moment. But, there is sufficient evidence of these issues and how they affect the nation. According to congress and the other bodies of government, some form of action should be taken on the issues.
The “American dream” is a term used for all the American Citizens. Every individual can have their own interpretation of the “American Dream”. It explains how every American citizen would enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These things can be received by Immigration to a new world for a better life, pursuing a quality degree in higher education, or having the feeling of pride knowing that the proper elected officials are in office doing a proper job. When an individual asks the question, “is the American Dream still alive” the answer to that question should be “yes, very much so”. This is because, the “American Dream” is not only still alive, but it has evolved.
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