Democratic American Dream Individualism Essay

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Hypothesis The Democratic American Dream, as articulated by President Johnson, is characterized primarily by its broadly construed egalitarianism, whereas the Republican American Dream, as articulated by President Reagan, is typified by its emphasis on individualism. Methods To test my hypothesis, I will use Lyndon B. Johnson and Ronald Reagan’s presidencies as case studies, coding for the dependent variables of egalitarianism and individualism along three dimensions, and aggregating each president’s references to these overarching ideological categories. I selected presidents for the focus of my analysis since they are the most famous figure within their respective parties, they have the most power to promote a clear policy agenda, and…show more content…
Equal rights and human equality are cornerstones of an egalitarian society, however the variation in degree of support for economic and social equality is well-documented by political scientists (Lane 1962; Rokeach 1973; Feldman 1988). Because political equality is a “settled principle of American democratic doctrine,” for the purposes of coding, I am concerned only with references to social and economic equality, which I contend is emphasized more in the Democratic American Dream (McClosky and Zaller 1984, 80). “Freedom” is the prime value of individualism since they are so closely intertwined; Rokeach finds that they are effectively synonymous, and Locke argues that they are mutually dependent (Rokeach 1973, 173-4). I chose to use “freedom” instead of liberty because it is construed in a broader way and is evoked more frequently in modern political rhetoric, but for the purposes of my coding, “freedom” can be considered as practically synonymous with the Lockean notion of liberty. Much like with “equality,” I will discount broad notions of freedom that do not pertain to the individual, because I contend that the Republican American Dream most highly values individual

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