I agree with this... and I think the latest financial crisis - nearly entirely brought about by a lack of appropriate/toothy regulation where needed & the uncontrolled greed of the financial sector - added to it greatly. Toss the first black president on top of that, and a different segment of the population is terrified (even if they won't admit it).
I don't think it was wrong to bring Cheney into this - he was the architect of fear. His entire ideology is dependent on having the masses be scared and pliable.
The incarceration rates are so telling - it's not that we send more people to jail than other countries; we keep them there longer, creating a cumulative population of inmates that is staggering. There is a fear that people are non-redemptable, once they go down a particular path. Then there's the whole drug/people of color/Reagan thing... that's a rabbit hole.
The loss of the American Dream is particularly felt in the lower blue-collar workers, I think. I think so many people believe there is nothing more for them in life, and get weighed down with how freakin' hard their lives are, and lose the ability to dig out. They lack the hope that I had (have), that my parents and grandparents had. That's why the lottery is so popular.
I agree it was right to bring up Cheney, and the lasting effect he's had on the national psyche. I also agree that there is something to be said for our incarceration rates.
I have a different point of view on the American Dream. It's an ambiguous thing to begin with, but my perception is that somewhere along the way, the American Dream began to be equated with over-consumption. It has been corrupted by consumerism.
"Own a home, it's the American Dream." "Buy a car, that's the American Dream." "No money down, get it today." - - and on, and on.
I have the token relative who is a surgeon, and the rest of my family is blue collar. My father was a union guy (I'm not a fan of present unions), and the rest of family is straight up blue collar.
I know this is a bit of a carry over of the income inequality thread, and I have a feel for your views from that thread, but I have to say, I don't think it's solely a lack of hope.
There are as many stories of hope, as they're are of dispair. My sis who lives in Atlanta is a stay at home mom with 2 young boys both under 3 years old. She also has my niece who is 12 years old.
She needed money, was bored, and wanted to be financially independent. Last year, in between caring for those boys she started a beauty products business from scratch, didn't know a thing about it. After more hard-work than she every imagined, she even got Urban Outfitters, and now has Hot Topix as a customer.
It was built from scratch, with less than $500 bucks as startup capital, while taking care of two boys, and running a household. It was built on hustle and exhaustion.
The business is tracking to be a high six-figure business this year.
I just finished reading Chris Gillibeau's book - The $100 Startup.
The book isn't about big, venture backed internet startups. It's a book of stories of ordinary people who decided to do their own thing, work for themselves. It's a book that walks you through the steps of getting started yourself. It even features two businesses started in Columbus on a shoe-string budget. Probably people you know.
There are thousands and thousands of these stories in the states. There are just as many failures as well. There are no guarantees.
I know I harp on entrepreneurship because that's my thing, but then again, it's just a vehicle. A way to deliver something I care about and make a living. Blue-collar, white collar, yellow-stained collar, it doesn't matter, if you're not thinking more entrepreneurially you're going to be in trouble.
My point in sharing my sis' story, and the book is that there is another narrative that is unfolding in American as well, those that are doing something.
I could just as easily say the popularity of the lottery reflects a culture of entitlement to fast, easy money for doing next to nothing.