When I was growing up, the American dream meant you had a house with a white picket fence, 2.5 children and a dog. I’m from a small city in Wisconsin, which has a well-regarded state university system that an overwhelming majority of my peers expected to and did attend. The promise of that university education was why the people I grew up with believed in the dream.
We made fun of the white picket fence part, which seemed stiff and boring to our 1990s teenage tastes. We cracked bad jokes about the best way to split the third kid in half. I lived in a white, straight, Christian city, but my friends who didn’t fit in those boxes and I believed in the dream too. My parents had fled there from a larger, dangerous city and worked their way up from apartments to a spacious house on the edge of town. Many of my friends were children of immigrants who had covered longer distances to achieve the same goal. Our parents had bettered themselves. We could too.
The American dream has been endangered for some decades now. I’m not the first person to point that out, and President Trump’s policies aren’t the first set of developments that have called it into question. The long decline of labor unions and the rise of automation, among other things, have made it harder for many people to afford a picket fence or 2.5 kids.
But the Trump administration’s racist and classist policies are hastening the demise of the American dream. His cruel, unnecessarily hard-edged approach to immigration enforcement goes after law-abiding, taxpaying residents. That, along with the recent tax cut on the rich that will be funded by the middle and lower classes, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s lack of interest in public education, all serve as proof that the dream is dying.
– New York Times