What do we mean when we talk about achieving the “American Dream”? Who is we? And is the Dream still relevant today? We’re exploring all those questions and more with Oregonians leading up to the November 2016 election. We’re gathering survey responses and talking with people on Think Out Loud to get a variety of perspectives on the “American Dream.”
Dennis Goode’s career path was an unusual one. He spent more than four decades working in the commercial insurance industry. For most of those years, he was working for the same company as an insurance broker.
Goode got a college education, worked hard, bought a house, raised a family, provided for them. Goode told Think Out Loud host Dave Miller that, in short, he has achieved the American Dream — certainly the way it’s traditionally been defined.
“I was lucky. I was in the right place at the right time.”
Miller asked Goode: How much of that luck had to do with being a white male in the middle of the 20th century?
“Oh I think it was very important,” Goode said. “There’s no doubt about that.”
But Goode said a lot of things have changed in society that make achieving the American Dream much more challenging for people today.
“One thing I never thought about, that is now a factor — when I think about this in relationship to my family, my kids, my grandkids — is first of all: health care.”
The rising cost of health care has made it harder for a lot of people to achieve the American Dream. Goode said he has both an altruistic and selfish motive for wanting as many people as possible to have access to health care.
“If you’re going to participate in the American Dream … you don’t live in a vacuum; you’re not employed in a vacuum. And I don’t want to be around a lot of sick people. So, I hope that other people, the other people that I’m associating with, have access to medical care, health care, so I’m not dealing with a bunch of sickies.”
Goode says he’s a lifelong Republican, but he says he won’t be voting for his party’s nominee for president.
“I would probably historically been described as a center-right Republican. The rise of the tea party folks, Trump coming on as the nominee, have not been things I would support. So after 55 years, I’m one Republican that will go on the radio and say, ‘I’m not going to support any way shape or form and what he represents.’”
Nevertheless, Goode says, he thinks the country will survive. And he says, despite the rhetoric — and the unprecedented vitriol — in this election season, the way he thinks about the fundamentals of America hasn’t changed.
“I don’t like it, but that doesn’t mean I have lost any faith in the American Dream. It doesn’t mean that the ideas I have economically about, what’s bad and good about Oregon have really changed. … He’s just one candidate, at this point in time, and we will live past it.”