Bill Clinton and the American Dream

Dreaming of the 1992 American Election

In his essay Dreams of the 1992 Election Kelly Bulkeley (1) investigates the meaning of dreams that have politicians and political events as part of their dramatic storyline. Bulkeley reports to us, that he himself has had many such dreams. Other dream researchers have also reported the politically driven plotlines of dreams. Carl Gustav Jung reported having dreams that prophesized the coming of World War I (read IIDR interpretation Memories, Dreams and Reflections of WW I). Charlotte Beradt Third Reich of Dreams reported the political effects of Nazi propaganda on ordinary Germans dreams (read IIDR interpretation Psychodynamic Problem of Democracy). In my own dream journal started in 1977, one can find the figure of every American President since Jimmy Carter. In a similar vein, the International Institute for Dream Research has received and posted many such politically oriented dreams. Bulkelley found dreams during the 1992 election campaign that included the political figures of President George H. W. Bush, Ross Perot and Bill Clinton.

Leaders, Nation Builders and the American Dream

Harold Lasswell Psychopathology and Politics argued that individuals who aspire to become political leaders are driven by motivations ontologically rooted in childhood experiences. As a dream researcher, I would argue that leadership has always played an important role in influencing the dreams of its citizens. Homer's Iliad speaks to us of Agamemnon's dream and his military leadership during the Trojan War. In the Old Testament, we are told of Pharaoh's dream and Joseph's interpretation of it. All heads of State can be seen as potential nation builders. In Canada, it could be argued that MacKenzie King (read IIDR interpretation MacKenzie King's National Dream) had the greatest influence on building the Canadian nation and Canadian Dream in the 20th century. Likewise, American Presidents since Washington have had dreams about the welfare and future of their nation. President Abraham Lincoln reported having had a prophetic dream about his assassination. Lincoln was not fearful of his own death, he was ready and willing to patriotically sacrifice himself for the greater good of the nation. A nation which needed to heal, after the divisions and deep wounds caused by the Civil War.

Doris Kearns Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream reported a number of personal and politically motivated dreams that Johnson had communicated to her. While it is difficult to define exactly what the American Dream is, certainly freedom plays a very important role as does the opportunity and promise to achieve prosperity. Many dreams received by the IIDR speak of such status seeking and conspicuous consumption behaviour. Others speak of the darker sides of the American Dream gone wrong and the ever present fear (read IIDR interpretation Fear of Falling) of loosing it all.

William Jefferson Clinton: The 42 President and the American Dream

Bulkeley Dreams of the 1992 Election reports a dream that a Bill Clinton supporter had, the day after the 1992 election;

"I'm with my son, sitting outside a bank building. Clinton, Gore and two others drive up in a car. I hope they'll stop and say hi, but they don't. They smile at us, but walk into the bank."

The dreamers own thoughts on the meaning of the dream were presented as follows; "When I reflected on the dream, I realized that I felt like a homeless person in it-sitting on a sidewalk with my child, asking some affluent people for a little token of recognition, only to be politically shunned. The dream made me look beyond the election night optimism and ask a more sober, and sobering question: is Bill Clinton going to ignore the voters who had supported him and head ‘straight for the bank' to seize the spoils of victory?"

The dreamer's reflections are suspicious and somewhat cynical of Clinton's motives of going ‘straight for the bank'. This dream can be read/interpreted somewhat differently. In retrospect, we can see Clinton's economic (banking) strategy. Clinton used the American Federal Reserve System, to help American's realize their dreams. By shaping the central bank policies, Clinton provided the foundation for building the longest peacetime economic expansion in American history. However, not all of Clinton's political and economic platform were achieved, as observed in his failed health care reform.

Clinton delivered to American's the prosperity they dreamed of, he also balanced the budget. Clinton's legacy is still divided in court of public opinion, mainly because of his misstep with a Whitehouse intern which placed his Presidency in jeopardy. One idea that cannot be ignored or denied, is that Clinton's job approval ratings when he left the Office of the President received one of the highest rankings in modern times. Since leaving office, Clinton has remained politically active in the Global Village.

(1) Kelly Bulkeley (ed.) Among All These Dreamers: Essays on Dreaming and Modern Society

All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.