As Joseph Epstein so clearly explains in his essay "The Late, Great American WASP" in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, that ethos tanked. George W. Bush's persona was the regular guy, not the WASPY patrician. According to Epstein, what replaced that was a meritocracy, based on attending good schools and doing well at them. Examples of those succeeding in the new system range from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama. Here is Epstein's deconstruction (sub. req.)
However, given the accelerated pace of our economic, social, political, and high-tech institutions, it shouldn't be a surprise that the meritocracy is also collapsing. The new leaders, at least the ones with influence, have chucked building their careers on the platform of good schools and achieving good grades at those. The poster boy for that is Mark Zuckerberg. He thumbed his nose at Harvard. The men (and it's primarily men) I do ghostwriting and speechwriting for either did not finish college or were lackluster students and B- or C-tier institutions of higher learning.
They contact me for my services because of my track record for getting the right attention and the diverse samples in my portfolio, not because I attended Harvard Law School. Also, they seem to smell that I, like them, live by their wits. One, with all kinds of learning disabilities, sold his first startup for $60 million. Another only got the college degree from a C-tier because his father made him do that. He sold his first startup for a king's ransom.
As a Baby Boomer from the working class, I saw that my shot would be through Being The Smartest Kid in the Class, just like Bill Clinton. That's what I did. It was only since the turn of the century, when the Old Order of Education as Stand-alone went kaput, that I returned to my hustler roots. Others might be getting the message that they also have to live by their wits. That could be the reason why "American Hustler" is resonating.