The dreams of the hard working American people are still alive, and are obtainable for those who want to have a better life through hard work. In Brandon King’s essay, “The American Dream: Dead, Alive, or on Hold,” he argues that the dream is still alive, despite the negative atmosphere set by today’s liberal economists and activists. King states in his essay to the reader that he “would define the American Dream today as the potential to work for an honest, secure way of life and save for the future” (1041). King’s point of view and emotional appeal to the reader attempts to convince others that the American Dream is still alive in the midst of overwhelming liberal bias and influence upon society.
The use of ethos is prominent throughout King’s paper. He either agrees or questions the others’ ideals about the instability of our economy today. New York Times columnist, Bob Hebert, claims that “our economic problems are the result of bad policy decisions…” (1044). He further explains that the reason America has fallen is due to the inept education system, outsourcing of jobs, and costly wars. Hebert proposes that the way to offset this is to raise the taxes on the wealthy. King strongly disagrees with Hebert, and points out that this would not fix the problem. It is almost like borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, so to speak. If taxes are raised on the wealthy without also addressing the other economic issues, such as lowering taxes for the poor and middle classes, this would do little to solve or improve the existing problems.
Not only do people believe in the American Dream, but they are actually saving money for their future and striving for job security with statistical numbers. In the MarketWatch, Mr. Hoak presented the following numbers when referencing how Americans were saving their money: “For example, more and more people now rent their homes instead of buying; a recent study showed a decrease in home ownership from 69% in 2008 to about 66.5% in 2010, and an increase in renter households of 1.1 million” (1042). Although King knows that some of the statistics are disturbing, he appeals his American Dream belief with a New York Times survey compiled by Seelye – “72 percent of Americans still believed it was possible to start poor, work hard, and become rich in America” (1041). The use of statistics throughout King’s paper gives the reader the impression that the American Dream can be achieved, but this does little to actually prove if he can be considered a credible source on the topic. King makes it apparent that he believes in the American Dream and contends the American people do as well, and if statistics are to be believed, this certainly supports his case.
King incorporates the use of pathos in his essay in an effort to appeal to readers’ emotions by assuring them that even in dismal economic times there is hope for all of us. He used an Atlanta newspaper editor’s (Chapman) quote from 2010 to prove that through our challenges, we still adapt and prevail, “the Great Recession didn’t kill the American dream. But the promise of a good life in exchange for hard, honest work has been bruised and frayed for millions of middle class Americans” (1045). King agrees with the author that the American dream is not dead, although it has faced many trials and endeavors. One recent example in history that perhaps demonstrates this is the 9/11 terrorist attacks. What was meant to kill, steal, and destroy the American Dream, caused Americans to unite and become stronger than ever. During these difficult challenges, King stresses that the American Dream may have been put on hold, but we overcame the struggles and continued to fight for that dream. King does a good job of his use of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to appeal to readers’ emotions. This was an event that still evokes deep emotion within individuals when recalling that horrific day. People can remember where they were, how they reacted, and the impact it had on them personally and on America as a nation. Americans have never forgotten nor will they ever forget that fateful day. More importantly, we are also reminded of how we overcame in the face of evil to rise up stronger and better than ever.
King presents logos in his essay to give the reader information that is reliable and informative. The contrasts and comparisons in King’s paper suggest that we can improve the state of our economy and focus on the American Dream. For those that implied that the American Dream is dead, King countered with; “Many liberal economists and activists say that the American Dream is dead, but I say that it’s more alive and important than ever – and that is the key to climbing out of the Great Recessions, overcoming inequality, and achieving true prosperity” (1041). Throughout King’s essay, he supports his belief in the American Dream with examples of different occurrences throughout history in which events had a negative impact on our economy and the ways in which America evolved from it. He does not embellish the idea of the American Dream as being all about big houses on a hill surrounded by white picket fences as that would be unrealistic at best. For King, the American Dream has been an ever-changing phenomenon that has evolved with the times to prove that it has always been a huge part of American society. It is one of the many foundations upon which American has been built.
Through King’s firm stand on the American Dream, he was able to reach out to the reader’s emotional appeal by using examples such as the Great Recession and the 9/11 terrorist attacks to convince them that the Dream is still alive today. Although statistics and the commentaries of other writers attempted to refute the American Dream’s existence, King appeals to readers with the reminder that throughout history the Dream continues to stand. This has been realized in the demeanor of the American people to still have hope and believe in the American Dream even when all else seemed lost. King reiterates that in recent years the American Dream has suffered, but he believes in our nation’s ability to overcome the economic depression and move forward. He also contends that if others would support the American Dream, our country’s economy and its people would flourish. King’s essay should give readers a sense of pride in their country and especially its citizens. King points out that we have overcome many obstacles to be where we are today. The American Dream is attainable through honest, hard work, and the willingness to pave the way for the future. The plan is there; it is up to each of us to remain united in order to achieve our goals.
- Chapman, D. (2010, December 10). America dream deferred, not dead. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved from http://www.ajc.com/
- Hebert, B. (2010). Hiding from reality. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/
- Hoak, A. (2011, February 8). More people choosing to rent, not buy, their home. MarketWatch. Retrieved from http://www.marketwatch.com
- King, B. “The American Dream: Dead, Alive, or on Hold?” They Say/I Say with Readings. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel Durst. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. 2015. 1040-1046
- Seelye, K. (2009, May 7). What happens to the American Dream in a recession? The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/