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Michael Ford

Michael Ford

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"The American Dream Is Held Dear by Individuals; It Takes a Village to Ruin It."

Posted: 04/ 1/11 11:17 AM ET

The Second Annual State of the American Dream Survey released by Xavier University's Center for the Study of the American Dream shows that Americans, and particularly immigrants, are keeping the American Dream alive, despite economic and job turmoil, three simultaneous US wars, intense institutional distrust, and natural disasters.

With a defiant optimism, 63% of Americans still believe that they will achieve their American Dream. For first and second generation immigrants, the number is even higher at 70%.

This is remarkable, as the survey also reveals that the very institutions charged with safeguarding the Dream -- those who govern us, who employ us, who take care of us, and inform us -- are wholeheartedly distrusted by substantial majorities.
• 83% distrust the political process in general.
• 79% distrust big business and corporations.
• 78% distrust government.
• 72% distrust the media.

These institutions appear to be piling onto our chances, rather than protecting them -- in other words, the American Dream is held dear by individuals; it takes a village to ruin it.

How is this distrust articulated in the survey?
• 54% believe that "their freedoms are being taken away."
• 76 % "do not believe that the world looks up to America like they used to."
• 65% think the country is "in decline."

These are staggering numbers. No partisan interests benefit from these findings. It's a resounding wake-up call for all political parties and everyone engaged in public life. It's a pox on all houses. To preserve the Dream, these institutions must win back the public's trust.

Simply put, the American public trusts no one, except themselves. That's not the way it's supposed to be.