The American dream: who else but the young can revive it?

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Many in the mainstream see the rise of populism and the victory of Donald J. Trump as a minor, transient, disturbance of the balance between stability and pluralism in liberal democracy, caused by a temporary economic setback promoting a cultural backlash in the shape of an emotionally driven nativism, traditionalism and antipolitics. For them, it will disappear again as soon as the economy recovers and progressive, reasonable and multicultural, postmaterialist values take charge of democracy again. In contrast, I argue that populism constitutes a serious threat to, perhaps the end of, American democracy as we know it, with its dream of creating a viable coupling between outward-looking progressivists and inward-looking traditionalists. The situation calls for the young to intervene and reinvigorate democracy. They have been nudged by neoliberals to express themselves and seek success above all else, and they feel in their everyday life the kind of anxiety and fear of failures that this can create. Consequently, they have invented new, flatter, less organized and more personalized ways of engaging, identifying and pursuing common concerns online and offline. This carries the germ of a new connective democracy breaking with both neoliberalism and populism in order to reboot the American dream.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-291
Number of pages18
JournalPolicy Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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