“Sadly, the American Dream is dead.” - Donald Trump (2016).
Who killed the American Dream? Not Donald Trump.
What happens to a nation when you declare the death of its most shared belief?
Our team set out to explore our fears of a dying American Dream only weeks after the 2016 election.
So what is the American Dream and why is it so important? At its most elementary definition, the concept originated by Benjamin Franklin and made famous by historian James Truslow Adams, is about freedom, opportunity, and happiness. These are among Americans’ most cherished values.
When shared values die, history teaches us that society collapses.
“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” - Abraham Lincoln (1838).
Civilizations are held together by shared stories and values as well as the people that believe in them. These are any nation’s foundation in order for its people to have a collective and prosperous future.
Through economic depression, war, and even division, a country can and will survive with a strong set of founding principles. And when the people no longer buy in, empires throughout time have collapsed not from the outside, but from within.
Six global empires have risen in human history and each inevitably fell as the core pillars of their societies decayed. The Persians, Mongolians, Romans, British, Chinese and Dutch. They all rose and fell for the same reason. We are the seventh empire.
With a deep understanding of this tragic historical motif, we wanted to know what Americans believe in today.
We traveled from the coast to the heart of the country and took a deep dive into the beliefs and perspectives of the everyday citizen. With an independently-developed surveying methodology, the crew interviewed and acquired hundreds of hours of footage of Americans of all backgrounds.
Small business owners, practitioners, first generation students, struggling families, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, non-voters, and the every day American all shared their experiences and views on the state of the union. To support our findings on the ground, we include testimony from highly regarded experts and up-and-coming leaders.
What we found is powerful and influential.
Today, in America, the divisions are affecting all of us right now in our politics, our social circles, and it will eventually hit our wallets and quality of life.
While we witnessed neighbors speaking of the same American values, they also described their neighborhoods as divided across almost every dichotomy imaginable - most falling into the trap of believing it’s “us vs. them.” Systemic throughout the population is this binary way of thinking.
Surprisingly, we found that a vast majority do share many of the same values. Interpretations of those values remain startlingly different – and the result is that the American identity is up for grabs.
Overcoming the pandemic of “us vs. them” thinking is a trivial pursuit. Most experts agree that there is no top-down solution. So we’re making a film for the people, by the people, that puts a face on the “enemy.”
We’re not the first generation to deal with an American identity crisis. It’s up to today’s Americans to help us rise above again. Our movement is built to fight back against the media’s, internet’s, and political leaders’ divisive obsession with Left vs. Right, Rich vs. Poor, Black vs. White, and so on.
It starts with The American Question. Our film introduces modern day civics for tomorrow’s America.
We successfully brought together people from all walks of life as well as experts and scientists to revive a national conversation that begins from the same starting line: our values. With values as our bridge, we can again meet in the middle to find common ground and work together.
We will not only outline the systemic problems, but we will also illustrate solutions to bridge the conflict over time.
We are now seeking a final round of funding to help us bring this impactful story to the nation. We are just a few finishing touches away - standing by are a group of well-known experts prepared to provide additional testimony, an award winning animator ready to add a modern touch, an editor to help with the final director’s cut, and some big industry names ready to help us distribute these powerful messages.
Once production is complete, we can begin next steps to call America to action with a series of roadshows, political activism, a new civics educational curriculum, and a fresh look at our shared values.
You, our fellow American, can make it happen.
Thank you for anything you can do and please reach out if you want to get involved in more ways than funding.