What if the American Dream of a college education is now gone?
What if we are headed towards a future of more debt, fewer opportunities, and less economic security?
What are the prospects for our kids?
And what are the next steps for President Trump?
We spoke with Mark Kantrowitz, author of The American Dream: How We Were Born into a New World Order, to find out.
First, how did the American dream get in such disarray?
The American dream was always about hope.
The American ideal was about opportunity.
The dreams that were supposed to inspire us and lift us up were never meant to provide us with any real rewards.
When the Great Depression hit, the American people began to realize that the dream that we had all worked so hard for and worked so long for was over.
The dream of a decent life was no longer real.
And that dream had been lost for too long.
The great majority of Americans who wanted to earn a decent living for themselves or their families were unable to.
But there were some who were able to.
People like John D. Rockefeller, a man who had spent the years of the 1920s working on behalf of his father and his grandfather, and who had fought to secure for the working class a decent, secure, middle-class life.
Those who could were able, and so were those who could not.
And those who were unable were in need of a savior.
So John D., John Rockefeller, and many others who came from the middle and upper classes of the United States were called the “American dreamers.”
John D, John Rockefeller and many of the American leaders who followed in his footsteps were called “American patriots.”
The American people came together to form a group called the New Deal Coalition to help them overcome their economic and political challenges.
They began by forming the National Council on Education.
They formed a network of state and local organizations to fight against the Great Compression of the 1930s, and they helped fight against racism in schools and colleges.
They created the United Farm Workers, the United Negro College Fund, and the American Civil Liberties Union.
And they did it all with the idea that if we worked together, we could turn things around.
So what happened?
Well, the Great Recession and the Great Depressions, the collapse of the manufacturing sector, the destruction of the housing market, the economic and financial collapse of many parts of the country, and an increase in debt and foreclosures.
Those crises brought the American dreams into disarray.
And what they brought was a collapse in hope.
Americans became fearful of ever getting a decent job again.
And many of those who wanted a decent work-life balance found themselves in a very precarious position.
Many who had been working for years, working at minimum wage, were now finding it very hard to survive on what they could earn.
They found themselves facing a crisis of social and economic opportunity and of social solidarity.
We saw that this was a great opportunity for the Republican Party to go back to the American promise that had been part of our history, and that is the idea of the middle class.
And we saw that the American ideals that had brought us so much prosperity, so much opportunity, were not going to survive a political system that saw a shrinking middle class, a shrinking social safety net, a declining ability to pay down debt.
So we have been able to reverse that and bring it back.
And I think we have seen the beginning of what’s to come.
But this is not the end of the story.
We have to take these problems seriously.
We need to rebuild our middle class and our middle-income working families.
We’ve got to create more economic security for people who have had a hard time in the past.
We’re going to need to have more of those kind of opportunities, too.
So how will we do that?
Well first, we have to fix the economic problems that have been created by the Great Degeneracy.
We know how bad the Great Crash of 1929 was, we know how badly the Great Divergence of 1920-23 was, and we know that the Great Financial Crisis of 1929-30 was a direct result of those problems.
We can fix the Great Collapse of the Great Moderation.
But it’s not enough.
We also have to solve the Great Economic Crisis that has been created over the last few decades.
We see the Great Gaps.
We feel the Great Debt.
We are seeing the Great Unemployment.
We face a great recession right now.
And the Great Prosperity Gap that we see in America right now is just as deep as the Great Poverty Gap that was created in the 1930-40s.
And all of those gaps have created tremendous economic insecurity for working families, for middle- and working-class families.
So the first step is to fix those gaps.
And then we have a number of other steps.
And so what I’ve tried to do is to focus on the