A recent NBC-Wall Street Journal poll asked its respondents to choose between the following statements: 1) The United States is a country where anyone, regardless of their background, can work hard, succeed and be comfortable financially. 2) The widening gap between the incomes of the wealthy and everyone else is undermining the idea that every American has the opportunity to move up to a better standard of living. More than half (54 percent) chose the latter, meaning that a majority of Americans think that income inequality is killing the so-called “American Dream.” These results match up with a June poll conducted by CNNMoney in which 59 percent of respondents believe that the American Dream is “unachievable.” Both polls also asked their respondents about the prospects of their kids’ future. The results were equally daunting; the NBC-WSJ poll found that 76 percent of Americans “do not feel confident that life for [their] children’s generation will be better” than their own, while CNNMoney’s poll showed that 63 percent of its respondents didn’t believe their kids “will be better off” than themselves. Essentially, two independently conducted mainstream media polls have both showed how the vast majority of Americans are becoming distrustful of longstanding American ideals. While both of these polls might not cause revolutionary fervor among America’s weakening middle class, they do speak volumes about the changing tone of a country that, not too long ago, proclaimed itself as the greatest triumph in the history of mankind.
Carlos Ballesteros is a freelance writer based in Chicago. He was born and raised in the South Side and recently graduated from Claremont McKenna College with a B.A. in History.