A lot of elements make up the American dream—pride, equality, autonomy, upward mobility, a just reward for effort and so on. As American culture got more pluralistic in the last half century, the American dream developed minority strands. Anyone who started a commune in Vermont was living a version of it, however dissident or ironic. But during the great de-ironization that began around the time of Ronald Reagan’s election, one element of the American dream came to predominate: homeownership. If the American dream has appeared endangered since the housing bubble brought the financial system to the brink of ruin, that is with good reason.