Andrew J. Bacevich — The American Dream

The Preamble of the Constitution offers a place to begin.

Andrew J. Bacevich — The American Dream

Back in 2009 at Bill Moyers Journal we asked all our guests to share with us their vision of the future of the American Dream. We’ve followed up with some of those guests and they’ve shared their thoughts with us on where the American Dream stands today. Tell us what your vision for the American Dream is on Facebook, Twitter, email or at (347) 974-4181.


Recovering the American Dream will require Americans to reflect seriously on the origins of that dream. The Preamble of the Constitution offers a place to begin. That concise 52-word statement concludes with a pledge to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” Put the emphasis on “ourselves” and the passage suggests a narrow, even selfish orientation. To put the emphasis on “posterity,” however, is to invite a more generous disposition.

What do present-day Americans owe posterity? At a minimum, this: a livable planet, reasonable assurances of security and a national household in decent working order, the three together facilitating the individual and collective pursuit of happiness.

Satisfying those three imperatives should constitute the focus of our national life.


I think core of my vision would be that we find ways to preserve that which is best about the past — the American inheritance. The American inheritance is an environmental inheritance a wonderful beautiful rich country and we’ve not treated that country kindly and we need to try to restore it and pass it on to future generations.

We have a rich political inheritance expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. I think the way the political system actually operates really does not keep faith with what those documents are about. So Somehow we need to recognizing that we live in a different era but somehow go back and capture the essence and the truths contained within those two documents. And we need to make sure that we’ve got an economy that for future generations will be able to provide a decent standard of living where the people are house and fed and clothed and they have access to medical care and that we can do all that without plunging into bankruptcy.

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Andrew Bacevich

Andrew Bacevich is a professor of history and international relations at Boston University. A graduate of the US Military Academy, he received his Ph.D. in American diplomatic history from Princeton University. Bacevich is also the author of America’s War for the Greater Middle East. His most recent book is The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory.