Opinion: The American Dream Decoded, at Last
It was last seen doing cocaine on a yacht in 1989, and went completely underground soon after. Since then, it's been derided as everything from a cruel joke to a naive fairy tale. But on Tuesday night, Barack Obama brought the Dream to the podium during the State of the Union speech, and it looked surprisingly good. It had clearly lost a little weight and thankfully shaved off that silly mustache.
The Dream talked about what it's been up to -- helping a student in Scranton, starting small businesses, getting Obama elected, the usual. The Dream then asked what we'd been up to, and we stared uncomfortably at our feet. "Oh, you know, looking for jobs. Working crappy jobs. Watching a lot of reality television ..."
Had we been seeing anyone? "Well, we're kind of dating the American Ironic Detachment, but it's not serious."
Some people think the American Dream is cheesy, and I agree, but let's be honest: Cheese makes everything taste better. You can even drizzle it on a decade; compare the delicious 1980s to the bitter 1990s.
It's telling that our national ethos is called the American Dream and not the American Realistic Expectation. As far as state-sponsored propaganda goes, ours is astonishingly frank. However, it isn't particularly specific. What exactly is the American Dream?
Is it a unifying, nationalistic force that motivates U.S. citizens to work hard, even without receiving immediate compensation? Is it premium-grade fuel for capitalism, the thrumming engine that runs our hot-rod country? Is it even attainable anymore, with the land of opportunity gone fallow and the middle class disappearing?
Many Americans have lost their way. How can we find the American Dream? If only someone would make a map!
Huddled masses, I have done just that. Boom! This chart is just one of many that can be found in my book, "Everything Explained Through Flowcharts."
Doogie Horner is a comedian and the author of "Everything Explained Through Flowcharts." You can learn more about him at doogiehorner.com.
Note: Click on the flowchart below to see it full-sized