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Student opinion: why the modern US can’t live up to the American Dream

Updated: May 27, 2021

The American Dream

I asked Aidan, aged 12, what he wanted to write about. He said politics and we landed on the American Dream. I asked him a simple question: does the US live up to the American Dream and he said no. To explain, he wrote the blog piece below.

‘The ideal by which equality of opportunity is available to any American, allowing the highest aspirations and goals to be achieved.’

The American Dream is based on giving every man and woman basic rights, for example, food, a home and water. The current socio-economic and political climate of the US suggests that the country has a long way to go to live up to the American dream.


The US has been deporting an increasingly large number of immigrants, and these immigrants will probably be deported to their most likely war-torn homes. Since Trump’s rise to power, self-deportation has increased by over four times, as strict immigration laws have made some immigrants give up on any chance of living a normal life in the US. A law imposed by the Trump Administration was the RAISE Act. The RAISE Act reduced legal immigration by half by reducing the number of green cards issued. A green card allows foreign citizens to gain permanent residence in the US.

Another consequence of strict immigration-based laws is that families cross the US-Mexico border illegally due to the low chance of getting into the country legally as an immigrant. These families are being separated, most likely never to see each other’s faces again. From October 1st 2017 to May 31st 2018 around 2700 children had been separated from their parents. Another consequence of these harsh laws is that the grief of losing a child is too much. An example of this is when a Honduran man killed himself in a detention himself in 2018 because he was separated from his child when illegally traveling the US-Mexico Border.

It seems that unless the US at this time dramatically changes its attitudes towards immigration, the country cannot live up to the American Dream as people are being denied access to even begin their lives of relative freedom in the land of the free.

Foreign Affairs

For the past thirty years, the US has remained the dominant world superpower, but now other nations are threatening the United States' grasp over the world stage.

One such case of a nation hurdling with the global stage is the Russian Federation. The Russian Federation has allegedly been manipulating Western media to encourage right wing nationalism to ensure a deep political divide in NATO and the US. This is apparently to spark revolution and gain influence over other nations to scare the US into Isolation – (none of this is confirmed, it is speculative from what I have read). An example of Russia allegedly tampering with Western media is when in 2016 Russia supposedly targeted messages on social media sites such as Facebook to incline people to vote for Donald J Trump in the presidential election. This is because Donald J Trump was allegedly likely to lift sanctions imposed on Russia by NATO. The Russian Federation launched an invasion in Chechnya in 1994, Gorgia in 2008 and another in Ukraine in 2014.

Another similar case of the US losing its grasp to keep world ‘peace’ is that China is creating artificial islands in the South China Sea to extend its maritime borders so China can extract oil from the sea. This has caused conflict with countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei. Also, we often see reports of exploitation of human rights and human rights violations in China too.

Despite the newly elected President Jo Biden, ripples of the Trump Administration still impact the US’s reputation on the global stage. One such stain still left (so far after the previous administration) is that Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Accord as it would ‘undermine the US economy’ and ‘put the US at a permanent disadvantage’.

US foreign policy then, at this moment in time, can’t live up to the American dream as the US is not sanctioning or condemning the behaviour of these nations.

Racial Bias

Lastly but not at all least, despite racial equality improving over the past 50-60 years, hundreds of cases of the police force in multiple countries, attacking and abusing people of colour. This appalling behaviour will not stop until we decide to address the responsibilities of police forces and evaluate major racial bias. An example of racial bias is when in June of 1971, President Richard Nixon declared the war on drugs and the amount of people convicted of drug use and incarcerated skyrocketed. The ratio of young white people to young black people being incarcerated for drug use is 1:10.

This truly shows the racial bias in the US police system.

These points stated show my opinion on how the United States won’t be able to heal its past wounds for many years. If the US carries on with this behaviour, then in a couple of decades the country will fall, shatter, lose all hope and dissolve or become dictatorial. If the United States changes with this new administration, then the American Dream can live on.

Sources I used:

  • Vox

  • The BBC

  • Wikipedia

  • Kurzgesagt

Aidan is a secondary school student, who enjoys reading and engaging in current and global affairs. This piece is written entirely by him with a few minor edits and guidance by School Should Be.

Disclaimer: the piece is Aidan's opinion and is not intended as advice or influence.


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