As a consumer of conservative views on TV and radio, I often hear the “American Dream” is dead. Many say we’ve become a “nanny state” where people play video games, while collecting government handouts.  The American work ethic is dead, the president is a dictator and we’re losing our privacy along with our economic freedom. They obviously have not heard the viewpoints of Alexis de Tocqueville and Elodie Gomes.

Alexis was a Frenchman who toured America in 1835, while Ellie is a young French woman who arrived in Chicago a month ago. Alexis applauded our individualism. He saw America as a society where the freedom to work hard led to success. Here’s what Ellie had to say in her piece, “The American Dream.” 

Have you ever thought about it? Of course you have, you’re all American people. Well I’m from France, and the idea of an American Dream has always been very abstract to me, until I moved here a month ago. I thought that this “American Dream” was some sort of propaganda, or tourism catchphrase to make people stay here, until they realized they were stuck here with no health insurance!

But there is something about living in Chicago, and getting to know American people, that made me think that the American Dream is not that abstract after all. I would just call it “The American Life” instead. This idea that, when you come here, you leave everything behind, and start something brand new, that we all deserve something better, something greater than us. 

I thought French people were okay: polite, and respectful. But let me tell you something and please don’t spread the word in my hometown, but you all are amazing! You make us foreign people feel welcome and loved. Whenever I have had a problem, such as getting really lost on your transportation system, some of you have helped me get through it. Maybe it was you, hiding behind this newspaper? 

You are the American Dream. You are this hope, you are this love. I hope that, by reading these few words, you will look at one another differently. This person, right next to you, is like your sweet Aunt Nicole, the one that would make you some delicious cookies, so just hug her! Well maybe don’t hug her that would be too much. But just think about this giant family of yours, and how great your journey is going to be all together. 

Ellie and Alexis believe the American Dream is real. So do 63 percent of Americans. However, Alexis did have a few warnings for us. He saw an America where citizens “took control over their own lives without government aid:” and cautioned that a “government with immense protective power” could treat citizens like a “flock of timid animals.” He also warned that individualism can lead to selfishness and materialism. 

It sounds like Alexis would make an excellent radio talk show host. As for Ellie, I can’t wait to hear her opinions about Forest Park.

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.

John Rice

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.

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