Presidential Election

Reawakening the American Dream

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    One of the most divisive presidential campaigns in modern U.S. history ends November 8, but the political fight between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton will have lasting implications for Germany, Europe and the world.

  • Facts


    • Oliver Bäte, 51, has been chief executive of Allianz, a Munich-based insurance and financial-services company, since May 2015.
    • Allianz has 85 million customers and about 150,000 employees in 70 countries and manages €1.5 trillion for insured customers and investors.
    • Mr. Bäte is a German native and a former McKinsey consultant who studied at the Leonard Stern School of Business in New York.
  • Audio


  • Pdf
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Trump listens as Democratic nominee Clinton answers a question from the audience during their presidential town hall debate in St. Louis
Without self-critical analysis and reforms, the polarization and paralysis in many sectors of U.S. society will not be overcome. Source: Reuters

The world followed the United States in the 20th century primarily because it was the world’s leading democracy, not so much because of its economic and military might. Only a return to this democratic strength will assure America’s success in the future.

At the heart of this democratic leadership was always the “American Dream:” the proverbial possibility for all citizens and immigrants to work their way up from dishwasher to millionaire. It involved basic democratic elements of an entrepreneurial and fair society: equality of opportunity with social mobility, free markets and entrepreneurial spirit, personal liberty and security.

The attractiveness of the American way of life is evident in its high level of immigration from throughout the world.

In just the quarter century since the fall of the Berlin Wall – which gave rise to a new wave of globalization – some 25 million persons immigrated legally into the United States. Even those who didn’t become millionaires could, with sufficient effort, lead a fulfilling, socially and economically attractive life, with each generation doing better than the one before.

But for a couple of years now, that is over. Even with last year’s vigorous rise in personal wealth, the average real income of U.S. households is still significantly less than its peak in 1999. The shrinking middle class and poorer sectors of society experienced a disproportionate decline. During the last 30 years, only families with high incomes enjoyed significant growth in real income.

Want to keep reading?

Subscribe now or log in to read our coverage of Europe’s leading economy.