Nearly a century has passed since James Truslow Adams coined the phrase "The American Dream." The historian defined the vision 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 is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position."
Leaving The Dream is a book that begins by wondering whether the American Dream is dead.
There is no shortage of signs. Pundits pile on with articles whose headlines read "America The Shrunken" and "We're Not No. 1! We're Not No.1!" The Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Norway as the world's most effective democracy; the United States ranked 17th, behind Malta and the Czech Republic. A Princeton University paper argued the United States is now an oligarchy, not a democracy. In The Price of Inequality Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz concludes that America is "no longer the land of opportunity" and "the 'American dream' is a myth."
Reality is undermining America's confidence in itself. A country whose core conceit is a belief that is it exceptional is starting to shed the illusion of superiority. Just one-in-three Americans thinks that the country is on the right track. One-in-three have lost faith in the mainstay of The American Dream, a belief that the future will be brighter. It would be hard to fault anyone for opening their window and shouting, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."
Mine is a more measured approach. Certain that the United States is in decline, unsure whether my country offers the right kind of future for me and my two children, I am exploring alternatives. I am shopping for a better land to call home. I am open to emigration. The story of the search will be told in Leaving The Dream.