Zephyr Teachout — The American Dream

The most basic dream of America is a dream of freedom.

Zephyr Teachout — 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 is your vision for the American Dream on Facebook, Twitter, email or at (347) 974-4181.


We are at a precipice moment in our country, between freedom and two kinds of tyranny.

One kind of tyranny is the authoritarianism and abuse of truth and power represented by Donald Trump. The other is the despotism of large corporations that are taking over every aspect of our lives. 

The most basic dream of America is a dream of freedom, and because both threaten our freedom in different ways, we must fight tooth and nail against both of these imposters. 

But when we get there, it looks like this: the freedom of representatives to represent people, not donors; union power, the freedom to unionize; the freedom to drink clean water and breath clean air; the freedom of small businesses everywhere to thrive, the freedom of all to know they cannot be bullied, either by executives in power or by multinational corporations. And we absolutely need to hold firm to the dream that the degree of freedom cannot depend upon race or religion. 


I want to take what’s best from every different era. So, I’d like to take the best part of the earliest 20th century to me was the civic involvement. Five percent of all Americans were presidents of their local volunteer association. That’s enough involvement to allow for real responsiveness. So, I’d like that part in the future. Five percent. You know, some active involvement.

I’d love the second half of the 20th century, you have this extraordinary recognition of the rights of minorities. Both in terms of initially, and most importantly in terms of racial minorities and then second as we’ve moved towards recognizing the rights of gays and others.

And then I would love to bring back the best of the 19th century, which I see as, you know, the real culture of independence. So, for all these things to happen, we need to have a much more decentralized model. So, it’s — progressive decentralized progressive federalism. Where more powers in the state governments. More powers in the in the city governments. And we have a much greater level of involvement while retaining the best parts of the legal — victories of the second half of the 20th century.

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Zephyr Teachout

Zephyr Teachout is a scholar of constitutional law who teaches at the Fordham University School of Law. She ran for governor of New York in 2014. She was national director of the Sunlight Foundation and director of online organizing for Howard Dean's campaign. Follow her on Twitter: @ZephyrTeachout.