July 11, 2008

BILL MOYERS: Before we go, some news about a brand new JOURNAL initiative you can explore on our Web site.

As we've just been hearing, what keeps our nation vital is a continuing discussion of diverse and often conflicting ideas. But what holds us together is the belief that everyone should share in what we almost reflexively call "The American Dream." The ways in which that dream is imagined are as complex and often contradictory as America itself. Some see it as the acquisition of fortune and material success. Others see it as social or personal change or ways in which we can work to perfect the union or stand as an ideal for the rest of the world. Still others see the dream as a myth, perhaps even a nightmare. In this presidential election year, we've asked the men and women who have appeared on the Journal to share with us their vision for the future of The American Dream. Here are some examples.

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ: The American Dream needs to be above all things, trans-generational. It needs to connect our fathers' legacy, their struggles, their hardships, their experiences, with our current generation.

GLENN C. LOURY: And that we would have the courage not only to criticize ourselves, but then to embrace the changes that we need to make in order for our reality to comport more closely with our ideals.

ROSS DOUTHAT: The thing for America to do is to remain America. To remain what it's been since its founding - a nation of limited government, of strong families, of strong communities, independent and self-reliant.

ORLANDO PATTERSON: My vision of The American Dream is an America which is able to make available its enormous resources, the wealthiest, most profitable country in the world, to all its citizens.

PHIL DONAHUE: I'm afraid The American Dream is going to be out of the reach of most of us until we, the public, become brave enough to elect political leaders who will reach out instead of lash out.

SARAH CHAYES: If we don't rebuild our public action, based on an ethical foundation, it's over, The American Dream.

MARTHA NUSSBAUM: My vision would be of an America which we recognize that we each have a conscience, each of us is searching for the meaning of life - it's a very hard thing to do. And that we agree to respect one and other as equals, as we carry out that search.

ELLEN SPIRO: My American Dream is about freedom, which is about tearing down walls, not erecting them. And it's about freedom from fear. It's about possibility and hope.

MATT WELCH: And what's best going to help facilitate further this great American Dream, is the more the government stands back and let's this wonderful thing continue to happen.

MICKEY EDWARDS: We had to get to this point where the American people say, 'Wait a minute, what's America all about?' And let's not lose that.

NELL PAINTER: I would like us all to feel a stake in our society and our future.

MARIA ECHAVESTE: We have to reclaim the American Dream …that Americans have to understand that they have to fight for the American Dream in order to make it a reality.

BILL MOYERS: You'll find many more ideas about The American Dream, and you can tell us your own, on our blog at pbs.org.

That's it for the JOURNAL. See you next week. I'm Bill Moyers…