Making America Great Again
Been thinking about this phrase and what it implies and what it might mean. If the plan is to make America great AGAIN...then the question is WHEN was America great? Further, WAS/IS America great? To the latter question I say: Yes AND No. Which bring me to the first question...when was America great? (Or better yet, when did the empirical "WE" think America was great?)
Did some careful thinking on this subject. The United States of America, as we know it came into being in and around 1776. The Declaration of Independence was written and signed, so that's where I am going to start. Was America great during the late 1700s? Yes! Forward thinking colonists put their lives and liberty at stake to form a new country; they fought and with help (remember it wasn't "Americans" who aided in the battle) "won" independence, setting up a government for and by the people. The United States of America was a whole new "thing" that had never been done before. That is pretty darned great! On the other hand...There was great loss of life. This new form of government came with its own problems and issues. The only people who had a say were landowners...that is to say wealthy men (women were not allowed to own property). Women really had no rights and slavery was legal. When you look at it from that angle, it's not so great.
Moving into the next century...was America great in the 1800s? It was definitely a century of growth. The Louisiana Purchase doubled our size as a nation...and that's great. There was the Second Great Awakening, a religious revival that expanded beyond religion and lead to the women's movement and the abolition of slavery. However, the century brought war in the form of the War of 1812, the Mexican American War and of course the Civil War. And while an end to slavery is definitely a GREAT thing, the division of a country which resulted in war is NOT Great. I'm not even going to bring up the Trail of Tears (and if you don't know about that, Google now). Great? Not so great?
The 1900s had some greatness; FDA established; 19th amendment is passed, Civil Rights Act is passed, and so much more. Plus think of the technology that made us great in the 20th century: electricity in homes, indoor plumbing; telephones, radio/tv...plenty of great stuff. We put a man on the moon! That achievement goes beyond greatness! But the 20th century also brought us into 2 world wars, a great depression, the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War. How about the Red Scare? Or the many assassinations (and attempted ones) of our leaders. Or how we ignored issues and crises, claiming that they were a problem for group x instead of realizing that any issue or crisis that affects a large portion of Americans, affects us all. So was America GREAT in the 20th Century?
Now we are not quite 20 years into the 21st century. Sure we've had our share of greatness in America, but clearly we've also have deep divisions. If we're asking to make America great again, then clearly we don't think we're great now.
So when WAS America great? It always was and always will be as long as there are people who are committed to working together for the good of the country and her people. When is America not so great? (May I even say crappy or lousy?) When there is discord. When Americans are so focused on taking sides that they don't see the bigger picture.
America IS great. But America is NOT one person or one thing. America is a country. A country founded on the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (not the guarantee of happiness.) America works when we work together. When we focus on issues that affect all of us and not just some of us. When we listen; even when we disagree. (Actually, especially when we listen when we disagree.)
America IS great because of her people. This giant melting pot of people, when they stop looking for differences, but instead seek common ground; that's when this country is great. And for as many divisions as we have and as much "bad" as we have in our world, this country has continued to grow and often (although not always) thrive. When we realize that America is not one person or group, but ALL of us; then we can say we are (and always were) great.
We don't have to make America great again. We are great. WE, not you or I, but WE are a great nation. One that thrives on diversity and will not be torn about by division. As we live up to the words: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity" we ARE and WILL be Great.