Make America Great Again
I haven’t posted on this thread in a while because something has been bothering me, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. And then it occurred to me. The whole Brexit ordeal was, in my opinion, a fight between generations in the United Kingdom; as I said in that post, the older generation dreamt of the British Empire at its zenith. I don’t know how that’s all going to play out.
What I’m writing about today is the same nostalgic phenomenon playing out in America. This is something I do care about.
Donald Trump made a great stir by declaring that he was going to “Make America Great Again,” and I take issue with this bold statement, not because of any rancor I have against him; in fact, I almost voted for him because I agree with his stated view of international affairs, especially global trade. This slogan has appeared on clothing and on banners and is bandied about as if these words alone would do for America what some citizens of the U.K. imagined would happen after Brexit.
I don’t want to get bogged down on what is going on over in Europe but a quick summary will help elucidate the purpose of this post. Dreaming of a dimly remembered past filled with victorious sea battles, the conquest of far-off lands, and the defeat of the Nazis in the twentieth century, the majority of U.K. citizens, spurred on by patriotic slogans and promises of a return to the “good old days,” cast their votes to depart from the European Union. When faced with the stark reality of what that would entail, despite the rosy images painted by some politicians, the entire Brexit procedure ground to a halt. This is understandable because the U.K. is not in a position of dominance in any aspect of global relations and they haven’t been since the 1940s. The similarity of the U.K. situation to that of America ends there.
America is not an island nation that has been at war with its neighbors for centuries. Our country never had a significant colonial presence, despite President Teddy Roosevelt’s dreams to the contrary. America has seen a continuous increase in productivity and creativity throughout its two-century history, which included being “the last man standing” after the horror of World War II. The aftermath of that cataclysm created a situation in which America was positioned to become the leading economy in the world; and it has remained so to this day. America was a great place for freedom-loving people (not counting Native Americans or African slaves, which is another story), who came in droves; they made it great and it has remained so throughout our nation’s history. Let’s break it down.
America never stopped being a “great” nation with a strong economy; despite many recessions, stagflation, continuous wars, and policy miss-steps at every turn. Even the 2008 “great recession” didn’t substantially hurt the productivity of American industries (including services). There is nothing to return to, and only a cynic (or perhaps a nihilist) with their mind firmly buried in a fictitious past would loudly shout “Make America Great Again.” So would someone with a personal or political agenda.
Any large and complex economy is going to deal with a continuous stream of problems, which sometimes appear unsurmountable when portrayed in the media (including social platforms). America is continuing to grow as a democracy and free economy, and there is no reason for it to do otherwise in the future. We have a lot of hurdles ahead of us, and we will probably trip on some of them, just as we have over the issues of slavery, women’s suffrage, unproductive overseas intervention (which started more than a century ago), and global trade (an unplanned experiment with costly results).
I could go on for many pages, but I’ll stop here and finish with one simple idea: Let’s stop talking about the past and focus on the future. Let’s make America even greater through even broader democracy and by using every natural resource available and person living within our borders.
America has never stopped being the greatest nation on earth.