KATIE REDEL, small business owner, Petaluma, CA.
"The American dream is the middle class. I believe in the American dream despite that many people have fallen out of the middle class. The American Dream will continue to exist depending on who gets elected. If Mitt Romney gets elected, it might be all over."
MORGAN GERHARD, Audio engineer from Burbank, CA.
"I believe in the American Dream because I'm living the American dream. My father was born in 1927, just before the Great Depression and he didn't have hardly anything. His father left the family and at age 11, he was helping support his family with his paper route. After this experience, he worked hard and saved, saved and saved. While he always paid taxes, he was able to keep enough of his money to elevate his family to a middle class status. Because of that hard work, I had a foundation to launch my crazy dream of coming to Hollywood and making it in the big leagues. The American Dream is not something that is given to you, but if you work hard. And when you are tired, you work even harder, you can rise above your station in life."
JULIAN GREEN, CEO for tech-startup in San Francisco, CA.
"I do believe in the American dream. That's why I am here from UK. It's still the country in the world where hard work, capability and luck can be rewarded, and where others are happy for you if that happens. The clouds in the American dream that are darkening, are those of increasing restrictions on immigration, the class lines in society hardening, and worse education and infrastructure."
JASON LUDWIG, musician, Austin, TX.
"The "American dream" is a fallacy, an outdated catchphrase siphoned of its meaning by decades – even centuries – of displaced sovereignty, perverted wars, etc. If you're talking about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, these all go beyond nation. Every human on the planet desires the means to those ends. To that extent, I believe in myself, my family, my music, and the ones I love around me. They are my country. Beyond them, I take stock in little else."
OMAR SHARIF, retiree, Giddings, TX.
"As long as the American dream is to make life safe and comfortable for all of the human family, I believe in it. Earth is the only place we can live, so let us be comfortable right here."
COURTNEY CAIN, working mom, Brentwood, TN.
"The American dream is not what you wish for, it's what you work for. We live in a nice house, but it wasn't given to us. In America you have the opportunity to do whatever you want. I had the luxury to quit working when I got the kids, and with the education I got I was able to get a good job again."
MATT THORNTON, musician, Lafayatte, LA.
"What is The American Dream? It is not the white picket fences of the 1950s, which are somewhat unattainable for most Americans today. Some Americans are becoming less motivated by money and the act of making it, and despite the commercials you see on TV, the American dream is not a life controlled by giant corporations like Coca Cola - even though I love that stuff. The American dream to me is ultimately the pursuit of happiness, not only for my family and me, but for every American. To me, time is more important than money. Time spent with my family, time spent traveling, time spent playing music and hanging out with people from Norway! The ability to do what you choose without persecution - and I do mean whatever you choose. With great power also comes great responsibility and as Americans we need to make sure that our children are taken care of and are left with a better planet than we were given."
HEATH STEVENS, Street poet, New Orleans, LA.
"Do I believe in the American dream? Well, which one? America is a wacky place, full of power, full of corruption. I think about the American dream as some sort of post fifties Americana suburbs, white picked fences, wife staying home and taking downers and pain pills, and drinking to alleviate the boredom. Part of the American thing is that everyone is suuuuper busy all the time. So broken, so in debt, and you know that makes it difficult if that's not your state. Here in New Orleans it is a different dream. It's like a 19th century dream with steamboats, prostitutes and jazz. I guess I believe in that dream, I'm sort of living it, with its ups and downs though."
FLORENCE D'ALTO, retired radio reporter, Brooklyn, NY.
"To me the American dream didn't matter, I was born here. But if they who are coming believe in it, it's all right."
SANAM, Iranian PHD student, New York City, NY
"If one's definition of the “American dream" is a large house with white picket fences, two cars, many electronic devices, etc., then sure, the "American dream" is possible. These days it is definitely more difficult to attain it with the economic situation now, but I'm positive that if one really wants it and if you try hard you can reach it. However, you have to keep in mind even if you do reach those things, they are not really "yours". You'll most likely be in debt and paying for them for a long, long time.
But if you want to have a fulfilling life, close family, leisure, vacations, or even weekly dinners and drinks with friends, then I'm not sure that you can have that dream, because you're busy working very hard and long hours every day to pay all that debt back! That will leave you with very little time, and very little mental and physical energy to enjoy life to its fullest."
YARON LUK-ZILBERMAN, investment manager, New York City, NY.
"It's alive for some people, for others it's completely dead. I think the American dream is alive, otherwise I wouldn't be doing what I do. If you look at all the immigrants that have come over the years, all come for a reason, whether you came for political freedom or for adventure, all are motivated by something, something that is bigger than what they are giving up by leaving their home country."
BISHWANATH BISWAS, used to be a business manager in Bangladesh, now selling fruit on the street in Harlem, New York City, NY.
"I cannot think about the dream. I am new here and am struggling to survive. I came here because my daughter is sick. Everyone think America is so good, but when you come here you realize can't reach your goals. In Bangladesh I had a good job, and I don't want the people back home to see how bad I am doing, therefore I don't want my picture in the newspaper."