The United States
The American Dream is 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. ~ American historian James Truslow Adams in 1931
American exceptionalism is the long-standing notion that the United States is qualitatively different from other nations. It was born from the political slogans first spun during the American Revolution (1775–1783): of individualism, laissez-faire governance (commonly called “freedom”), and egalitarianism – though only in the legal sense, and most certainly not economically. The coinage of American exceptionalism dates to French political historian Alexis de Tocqueville, who visited America in the early 1830s.
As one digs deeper into the national character of the Americans, one sees that they have sought the value of everything in this world only in the answer to this single question: how much money will it bring in? ~ Alexis de Tocqueville
The American Dream first took root in frontier life, with the taking of native Americans lands and deforestation wherever rich soil with ample water supplies were found via easy access. The fruition of the American Dream was small towns, urban sprawl, and suburbs dotting the nation, with freeways crisscrossing the country.
Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires. ~ American novelist John Steinbeck
Not ironically, America’s social stratification grew to resemble the British class system, though with a very significant ideological difference: the abiding myth of the American Dream.
The British appear long resigned to their social stratification as resembling a natural order. In contrast, Americans were long religiously uppity in their insistence that prosperity in their country was merely a matter of enterprise and diligent hard work. It was a hardy delusion that finally crumbled. That America is “the land of opportunity” had been worn threadbare by the 21st century, as plutocratic governance entrenched economic inequality. The rich long had a grip on political power. It was a mere matter-of-course progression for the wealthy elite to squeeze those below as economic growth slowed.
Opportunity is slipping away. ~ US Senator Elizabeth Warren in 2015
Inheritance plays as large a role in preserving the elite in the United States as it does in England. But the British have a much higher status-consistency, particularly among the hereditary elite.
In the US, class status is merely a matter of money. American nouveau riche suffer less snobbery than in England; but then, America is less classy.
The US perhaps has a tad more meritocracy than Britain, but the game is rigged from the get-go. This is a fact that most middle-class Americans still refuse to recognize.
If you ask most Americans about their country’s social class system, you are likely to get a blank look. ~ James Henslin in 2010
The quality of education in the United States has increasingly been a matter of parental wealth, as the qualitative difference between public and private education has diverged, owing mainly to diminishment of public schools for lack of governmental investment. And education is the ticket to economic ascension like never before.
There is fierce competition to the best American universities, which provide the best opportunities to network with those in the current generation who are going to matter, and to stand out to employers who will pay top dollar. Legacy matters in getting admitted to elite universities.