Center for American Progress

The Public Wants Help Achieving the American Dream

The Public Wants Help Achieving the American Dream

Polls show that Americans want help achieving the American Dream; progressive solutions can bring them closer to their goals.

Reaching the American Dream is a traditional goal in this country. According to a September, 2007 Change to Win/Lake Partners survey of registered voters, that dream includes the following components: having a job that pays enough to support a family (78 percent say this is extremely important for reaching the American Dream); having affordable, quality health care that you can depend on (73 percent); being able to ensure your children have the opportunity to succeed (73 percent); having a secure and dignified retirement (71 percent); being treated with respect for the work you do (67 percent); being able to afford your own home (66 percent); having benefits that fit your life in the new economy and follow you when you change jobs, move, or become self-employed or unemployed (61 percent); being able to afford to spend more time with family and in your community (60 percent); and having access to training at work so that you can advance and do well (51 percent).

These aspects, which Americans identify as central to reaching the American Dream, are all addressed in CAP’s newly released economic plan, Progressive Growth: Transforming America’s Economy through Clean Energy, Innovation, and Opportunity.

While Americans remain optimistic that they and their families will eventually achieve the American Dream, they are overwhelmingly convinced that achieving the Dream is becoming harder to do. In the Change to Win/Lake Partners poll, 70 percent of voters said it is becoming harder these days to achieve the American Dream, compared with 8 percent who thought it is becoming easier, and 21 percent who thought it is about the same.

Moreover, the public believes, by 57 percent to 15 percent, that the Bush administration policies of the last seven years have made it harder, not easier, to attain the Dream.

The public wishes the government would step in and do something positive for those striving to attain the American Dream. An overwhelming 84 percent agree, including 62 percent who strongly agree, that “government has a responsibility to help restore the American Dream and help people who work hard to be able to achieve it,” compared with a mere 14 percent who disagree. The conservatives have argued for years that government is the problem, not the solution. When it comes to achieving the American Dream, the public evidently disagrees.


For information on Progressive Growth, CAP’s economic plan for the next administration, see:

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Ruy Teixeira

Former Senior Fellow