There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .
And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .
So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.
Nevermind the cyclical nature of economic concerns. A larger problem from an analytical standpoint is that the American Dream is problematic as a cohesive concept. Preferences and cultures are too varied to be coherent as a policy-relevant "dream." The Institute is largely concerned with immigration and reinvention, so surveying in a recession will paint a particularly bad picture. As these surveys continue they will likely become valuable barometers of various social concerns, but individual years will be skewed by exogenous economic and political factors.
*I think it's funny that The American Dream Project features a prominent trademark on the Institute's website. Nothing promotes community mindedness and shared goals like trademarks, copyrights and use restrictions!