The Instigator
lukewilson27
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
progressivedem22
Con (against)
Winning
9 Points

Political/Social Reform

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
progressivedem22
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/6/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 528 times Debate No: 43202
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (3)

 

lukewilson27

Pro

The American Dream is a lie, full of false hopes and promises that lead most Americans, especially since the "Great Recession", down a road of alcoholism, divorce, heartache, drug-abuse, and quack psychiatrists. More than likely the quack doc will give the patient, or guinea pig, a cocktail of crap aimed at your brain to help cope with the deep depression caused by the very betrayal of such a lie. My basic premise is that in order for the American Dream to actually work, it comes at the expense of many, so the few can reap the enormous rewards, which is then flaunted back to us in American media, messing our kids up, instilling false hopes of what life is about. We are breeding disappointment and dissatisfaction by the millions. Very few Americans will ever really reach the point of abundance in material things. Maybe we will learn that character and measure of a man's integrity and his compassion are the criteria for wealth and value.
progressivedem22

Con

I accept Pro"s challenge, and would like to wish him the best of luck. I will be arguing that the American Dream is not destructive, nor is it the cause of the myriad of negative outcomes Pro has cited; in fact, my case will be that it is not possible to draw causation " which Pro must be able to do in order to argue this case " because the American Dream itself is declining. If the American Dream is absent, it can"t be the cause of such torment. I submit that the burden of proof is on him to establish causation.

First, let"s define our terms. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the American Dream is "an American social ideal that stresses egalitarianism and especially in material prosperity" and "the prosperity or life that is the realization of this ideal."

So, this definition begs the question: how can this be negative in any way, shape, or form, especially when its structure is heavily contingent on individual persons? My conception of the American Dream, for instance, may be one day owning a home. Another person may want to own a home. My female neighbor may want to one day reside in the oval office, having the glory of being the first female president.

We may think that the problem with this concept is that it, as my opponent claims, "comes at the expense of many." This could be argued if the American Dream were strictly material in nature, but it isn"t: in his 1931 book, The Epic of America, James Truslow Adams defined the American Dream as "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement." It"s a concept which stresses hard work, dedication, commitment, and passion " which teaches people from a young age to strive for success without limitations, which convinces them that they can do anything they set their mind to. How could this concept, ipso facto, lead to "alcoholism, divorce, heartache, drug abuse, and quack psychiatrists?" These things indeed are common, but there is hardly a correlation, nor is there causation " the case is a post-hoc fallacy (Latin for "after this, therefore because of this").

Why, though, is there no correlation between believing in the American Dream and these problems that my opponent cites? The answer is that the American Dream is declining. Consider polls conducted by the Washington Post-Miller Center, which the Washington Post analyzed. Here are some of the stunning results:

-About 2/3 of people polled answered that they were concerned about meeting basic living expenses for their families. 40 years ago, this figure was less than 50%.
-About " of people polled answered that they doubt they will receive an increase in their pay, or find a better job in the near future, with 58% claiming that they earn less than they deserve.
-Over 60% of people polled expressed concern that they would lose their jobs.
-The most stunning figure: Only 54% of those polled say that their own standard of living is better than that of their parents
-39 percent believe their children will have a better life than they have.
But why are people express such fear over their future prospects? It is not because the American Dream has led to these problems, but that these problems have followed the inability to realize the American Dream. The country is facing significant problems right now " declining middle-income wages, slow recovery, CEO pay trumping the pay of the average worker, lack of available jobs, et al. Nobel-prize winning economist Joe Stiglitz commented that the "American Dream has become a myth." He asserted that "the life chances of a young U.S. citizen are more dependent on the income and education of his parts than in any other advanced industrial country for which there is data." And he is correct: there is less economic mobility in the US and than there is in Western Europe and Canada. In the U.S., 70% of Americans who begin their lives in the bottom income quintile stay there as adults.

In essence, people are not able to "live life in the way they choose." 75% of those surveyed define the American Dream in this way. So the question goes back to Pro: how is living life how we see fit, and aspiring for success, destructive? How has it led to all of the horrible outcomes you have cited?

Moreover, you claim that "for the American Dream to actually work, it comes at the expense of many, so the few can reap the enormous awards." I think this assertion is fundamentally wrong. In order to get ahead in today"s society, it is plausible to say that people need to have wealth and to maintain wealth. In order to do that, yes, some people may cheat the system, destroy the little guy, and selfishly seek their own personal fortune. But this is not a function of the American Dream: to say that is to say that pursuing success in any capacity requires holding other people down. You are suggesting that success itself " that having goals, and wanting to change the world " should be frowned upon, and I view that as anathema to what America ought to stand for. The American Dream did not lead to these conflicts: decades of income inequality, of crime, of a system with two sets of rules (one for the politically connected, and another for working Americans) is what led to these conflicts.

My core thesis, and what I will conclude this argument with, is a quote from former U.S. Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich: "Those of who are cynical about the capacity of our political and economic system to change should look at how far we"ve come." The impression from Pro"s case is that he is quite cynical, and he is blaming the American Dream for instilling false hopes. His remark that "[v]ery few Americans will every really reach the point of abundance in material things" is incorrect on two counts. First, it assumes that the American Dream cannot be understand of material possessions, which at least 75% of Americans would disagree with. Second, it represents a concession. Yes, prospects for the future are bleak. But do you not believe that sentiments like this act as self-fulfilling prophecies? Cynicism due to lack of success, in lieu of organizing in order to engender social change, will not improve your situation: it will only ensure that nothing changes, and that you are proven correct. I am a progressive because I believe in changing the system, and yes, I am quite unhappy with the current state of the U.S. political system and economy. But cynicism, despondency, and concession are not plausible solutions to this very real problem.

http://www.merriam-webster.com... -- Definition of "American Dream"
http://www.washingtonpost.com... -- Polling from Washington Post-Miller Center
http://www.loc.gov... -- Definition of American Dream from James Truslow Adams
http://www.huffingtonpost.com... -- Joe Stiglitz remarks
https://www.facebook.com... -- Robert Reich quote
Debate Round No. 1
lukewilson27

Pro

lukewilson27 forfeited this round.
progressivedem22

Con

My opponent has forfeited Round 2, so I'd like to take this time to extend my argument--presently unchallenged--forward. I don't have anything to add at this point since I can't respond to any of his additional arguments. With that said, I hope we can finish this debate upon his return.
Debate Round No. 2
lukewilson27

Pro

lukewilson27 forfeited this round.
progressivedem22

Con

Well, this was disappointing. I was looking forward to a discussion on this topic. To my opponent, when if and you see this, if you would like to have a genuine debate on this subject, please message me.

At this point, I'd like to, again, extend my argument.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by lukewilson27 2 years ago
lukewilson27
I know nothing of China or England, I'm an American speaking from American education and experience....I don't know hat it's like in China or England and I am skeptic of media, I seek my own truth through research and talking to people with first hand experience.
Posted by msheahan99 2 years ago
msheahan99
Alright, so say we're in china. How much better would it be there? Or England?
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 2 years ago
Ragnar
lukewilson27progressivedem22Tied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:01 
Reasons for voting decision: f.
Vote Placed by yay842 2 years ago
yay842
lukewilson27progressivedem22Tied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:01 
Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by jwcmcorbin 2 years ago
jwcmcorbin
lukewilson27progressivedem22Tied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: First of course the Pro had no arguments for the entire debate except and the beginning. As for conduct or grammar again goes to the Con because I felt from reading the Con had a sense of professionalism while the Pro simply said statements such as "the quack doc will give the patient, or guinea pig, a cocktail of crap". The Con was the only side to give sources and therefore was the winner in all categories.